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Methods: We assessed imaging, clinical variables, and cognition in patients with mild (i.e., nondisabling) ischemic lacunar or cortical stroke. We analyzed BBB leakage, interstitial fluid, and white matter integrity using multimodal tissue-specific spatial analysis around white matter hyperintensities (WMH). We assessed predictors of 1 year cognition, recurrent stroke, and dependency.
Results: In 201 patients, median age 67 (range 34–97), BBB leakage, and interstitial fluid were higher in WMH than normal-appearing white matter; leakage in normal-appearing white matter increased with proximity to WMH (P < .0001), with WMH severity (P = .033), age (P = .03), and hypertension (P < .0001). BBB leakage in WMH predicted declining cognition at 1 year.
Discussion: BBB leakage increases in normal-appearing white matter with WMH and predicts worsening cognition. Interventions to reduce BBB leakage may prevent SVD-associated dementia.
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