As awareness of dementia increases, it is common for individuals to seek help for memory and thinking loss. Neuroimaging studies frequently identify “incidental” White Matter Hyperintensities (WMH), usually ascribed to “microvascular disease” by radiologists, raising patient concerns about their brain health and future risk for dementia. To date, however, we are not aware of any studies that have comprehensively examined the impact of individual and combined MRI measures of white matter injury on cognitive performance among a diverse, non-demented, stroke free population with cognitive complaints over an extended period of observation. Diverse VCID aims to study this problem directly.
Vascular disease kills millions of Americans every year and affects memory and thinking skills of many more. For example, Alzheimer’s dementia changes are frequently found in people with cerebrovascular disease (vascular disease affecting the brain). Unfortunately, scientists have not yet discovered how age changes the brain’s vascular system and how those changes lead to cognitive decline in later life.
The US National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) has commissioned a scientific team to design and execute a 6-year long national study of 2,250 Americans from diverse backgrounds in order to understand the role that cerebrovascular disease plays in developing Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.
The Diverse-Vascular Contributions to Cognitive Impairment and Dementia study uses advanced brain imaging and blood-based techniques to understand how vascular changes in late life cause brain injury that lead to cognitive decline.
Our goal is to be able to develop tools for medical doctors to diagnose and treat cerebrovascular disease before it causes cognitive decline or leads to dementia.