Brain Imaging Changes Seen Before Clinical Signs of Cardiovascular Disease

(HealthDay News) — Brain imaging changes in association with vascular risk factors precede clinical manifestation of cardiovascular (CV) or cerebrovascular disease, according to research published in JACC: Cardiovascular Imaging.

Joseph I. Friedman, MD, from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, and colleagues conducted a systematic review of imaging studies to examine brain changes in patients with vascular risk factors, but without clinically manifest CV or cerebrovascular disease or events. Data were reviewed from 77 studies.

For people without symptomatic CV, cerebrovascular or peripheral vascular disease, there were independent correlations between the risk factors of hypertension, diabetes, obesity, hyperlipidemia and smoking and changes in brain imaging. These changes occurred prior to clinical manifestation of CV or cerebrovascular disease.

“We conclude that the identification of brain changes associated with vascular risk factors, before the manifestation of clinically significant cerebrovascular damage, presents a window of opportunity wherein adequate treatment of these modifiable vascular risk factors may prevent the development of irreversible deleterious brain changes and potentially alter patients’ clinical course,” the researchers wrote.

One author disclosed financial ties to the health care industry.


  1. Friedman JI et al. J Am Coll Cardiol Img. 2014;7(10):1039-1053.