Jasmin Keller and others of the LUMC, collaborating with the AGES-Reykjavik study group in Iceland, found that the shape of a type of brain lesion called white matter hyperintensities (WMH) are linked to long-term risk of dementia. WMHs refer to areas of abnormal white matter in the brain that appear bright on certain types of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. These areas are associated with a variety of conditions, including vascular disease and dementia.

The study involved more than three-thousand participants with an average age of 76 years who were part of the Age Gene/Environment Susceptibility (AGES)-Reykjavik study. The participants underwent baseline brain MRI scans and were followed up for dementia for an average of 9.9 years.

The results showed that more irregular shape and higher volumes of several subtypes of WMHs at baseline were associated with an increased long-term risk of dementia. Overall, these findings suggest that WMH shape markers may be useful in determining patient prognosis and selecting patients for future preventative treatments in community-dwelling older adults.

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