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Magnetic Resonance Imaging White Matter Lesions and Cognitive Impairment in Hypertensive Individuals

Reinhold Schmidt, MD; Franz Fazekas, MD; Hans Offenbacher, MD; Helene Lytwyn, PhD; Brigitte Blematl, MD; Kurt Niederkorn, MD; Susanna Horner, MD; Franz Payer, MD; Wolfgang Freidl, PhD
Arch Neurol. 1991;48(4):417-420. doi:10.1001/archneur.1991.00530160087019.
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• To search for a morphologic basis of cognitive impairment possibly associated with essential hypertension, we studied 35 otherwise asymptomatic hypertensive individuals (mean age, 38.7 years; range, 22 to 49 years) and 20 normotensive control subjects (mean age, 37.9 years; range, 26 to 49 years) using neuropsychologic tests and magnetic resonance imaging. Irrespective of drug treatment, hypertensive individuals performed significantly worse than did control subjects when assessed for verbal memory and total learning and memory capacity, while there were no differences in test results of visual memory, attention, vigilance, and reaction time. The hypertensive individuals also described themselves as less active but ranked similar on five other mood subscales. Punctate high-signal intensities of the white matter were found almost twice as often in the hypertensive group (38%) as in the control group (20%). There was no difference in test performance between hypertensive individuals with and those without white matter lesions, however. Our results confirm the presence of subtle neuropsychologic deficits and indicate a higher frequency of white matter signal abnormalities in essential hypertension, as shown on magnetic resonance imaging, but do not indicate a correlation of these findings with each other.

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