OBJECTIVE. Previous attempts to explain the presence of focal hyperintensities in the cerebral white matter on MR images have focused on the patient's age and cardiovascular risk factors. The purpose of this study was to survey many variables in subjects' social, medical, and surgical histories to identify those factors associated with focal hyperintensities in asymptomatic persons. SUBJECTS AND METHODS. Asymptomatic volunteers were examined with MR imaging of the head and questioned concerning smoking history; chemical dependence; alcohol consumption; medical history (e.g., high blood pressure, kidney disease); surgical history (e.g., for appendix, gallbladder); medications (e.g., antihypertensives, analgesics); and other historical family and social variables. Vital signs were recorded. Focal hyperintensities were counted by observers who were not provided any information about the subjects other than that they were either volunteers or patients. Each of the variables in the history was tested for an association with the number of focal hyperintensities seen on MR images. RESULTS. A statistically significant positive association was found between both age and the use of antihypertensive medications and the number of focal hyperintensities. Associations were also found between the number of focal hyperintensities and diastolic and systolic blood pressures at the time of MR imaging, but these associations did not reach statistical significance. No other variables in the medical, surgical, or social histories were found to be significantly related to the number of focal hyperintensities. CONCLUSION. Age and the use of antihypertensive medications were the only significant risk factors identified in respect to focal hyperintensities of the cerebral white matter.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging