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Research paper
Neuroimaging predictors of death and dementia in a cohort of older stroke survivors
  1. Michael J Firbank,
  2. Louise M Allan,
  3. Emma J Burton,
  4. Robert Barber,
  5. John T O'Brien,
  6. Raj N Kalaria
  1. Institute for Ageing and Health, Newcastle University, Campus for Ageing and Vitality, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr M J Firbank, Institute for Ageing and Health, Newcastle University, Campus for Ageing and Vitality, Newcastle upon Tyne NE4 5PL, UK; m.j.firbank{at}


Background Stroke is a risk factor for subsequent death and dementia. Being able to identify subjects at particular risk would be beneficial to inform treatment and patient management.

Methods Subjects aged over 75 years with incident stroke were recruited. Subjects had a cognitive assessment at 3 months post stroke to exclude dementia, and had an MRI scan (n=106) at that time. Subjects were then followed longitudinally for incident dementia and/or death.

Results Independent neuroimaging predictors of survival to dementia were medial temporal atrophy (MTA; p=0.013) and the presence of thalamic infarcts (p=0.002). After inclusion of cognitive score in the model, the significance of MTA (p=0.049) and thalamic infarcts (p=0.04) was reduced, with survival being best predicted by baseline cognitive score (p=0.004). The only independent significant predictor of survival to death was MTA. Apart from thalamic infarcts, the NINDS/AIREN neuroimaging criteria did not independently predict survival to death or dementia.

Conclusions MTA was associated with shorter time to dementia, suggesting a role for Alzheimer pathology in the development of post stroke dementia.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial License, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non commercial and is otherwise in compliance with the license. See: and

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  • Funding This work is supported by grants from the Medical Research Council (UK), G0500247, and the UK NIHR Biomedical Research Centre for Ageing and Age Related Diseases award to the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

  • Competing interests RNK has received speaker honoraria from Pfizer Inc. JTO has been a consultant for GE Healthcare, Servier and Bayer Healthcare, and has received honoraria for talks from Pfizer, GE Healthcare, Eisai, Shire, Lundbeck, Lilly and Novartis.

  • Ethics approval The study was approved by Newcastle and North Tyneside NHS ethics committee.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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