HealthDay News — Small subclinical cerebral lesions are associated with an increased risk of stroke and death, according to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

B. Gwen Windham, MD, from the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, and colleagues examined stroke risks associated with subclinical brain lesions and white matter hyperintensities (WMHs). Data were obtained from 1,884 adults, aged 50 to 73 years, with magnetic resonance imaging, no previous stroke, and follow-up of 14.5 years.

The researchers found that, compared with no lesions, the risk of stroke was increased with lesions smaller than 3 mm only (hazard ratio, 3.47), lesions 3 mm or larger only (hazard rate, 1.94), with lesions of both sizes (hazard ratio, 8.59), and with a WMH score of at least 3 (hazard ratio, 2.14). With lesions smaller than 3 mm only and with lesions of both sizes, the risk of stroke-related death was increased (hazard ratios, 3.05 and 6.97, respectively).

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“Very small cerebrovascular lesions may be associated with increased risks for stroke and death; presence of lesions smaller than 3 mm and 3 mm or larger may result in a particularly striking risk increase,” the authors write. “Larger studies are needed to confirm findings and provide more precise estimates.”

One author disclosed financial ties to the biotechnology industry. Several journal editors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.


  1. Windham BG et al. Ann Intern Med. 2015; doi:10.7326/M14-2057.