(HealthDay News) — Very small subclinical cerebral lesions are associated with increased risks of stroke and death, according to a study published in the July 7 issue of 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 50–73 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 <3mm only (hazard ratio, 3.47), lesions ≥3mm 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 <3mm only and with lesions of both sizes, the risk of stroke-related death was increased (hazard ratios, 3.05 and 6.97, respectively).

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

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

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