BACKGROUND: Infarcts in the brain can be divided into larger cortical and smaller deep lacunar infarcts. The pathogenesis differs between these two types of infarctions.
OBJECTIVE: This study aims to investigate the relationship between measures of endothelium-dependent vasodilation (EDV) and occurrence of cortical and lacunar infarcts in a population-based sample.
METHODS: In the Prospective Study of the Vasculature in Uppsala Seniors (PIVUS) study, 1016 subjects aged 70 were evaluated by the invasive forearm technique with acetylcholine (EDV) and brachial artery ultrasound to assess flow-mediated vasodilation (FMD). Six to seven years later MRI of the brain was performed, and the prevalence of cortical and lacunar infarcts was visually assessed in 407 randomly selected subjects.
RESULTS: Lacunar infarcts were found in 22% and cortical infarcts in 5·9% of the subjects. EDV and FMD were both significantly related to the occurrence of cortical, but not lacunar infarcts. In a model adjusting for gender, waist circumference, body mass index, fasting blood glucose, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, HDL and LDL cholesterol, serum triglycerides, smoking, antihypertensive treatment and statin use, both EDV and FMD were independent predictors of cortical infarcts (P = 0·035 and P = 0·008, respectively).
CONCLUSIONS: Endothelium-dependent vasodilation in both forearm resistance vessels and the brachial artery was related to the occurrence of cortical, but not lacunar, infarcts at MRI in a population-based sample independently of traditional risk factors.