The growing clinical spectrum of cerebral amyloid angiopathy

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Abstract

Purpose of review

Cerebral amyloid angiopathy (CAA) is diagnosed primarily as a cause of lobar intracerebral hemorrhages (ICH) in elderly patients. With improving MRI techniques, however, the role of CAA in causing other symptoms has become clear. Recognizing the full clinical spectrum of CAA is important for diagnosis and treatment. In this review we summarize recent insights in clinical CAA features, MRI biomarkers, and management.

Recent findings

The rate of ICH recurrence in CAA is among the highest of all stroke subtypes. Cortical superficial siderosis (cSS) and cortical subarachnoid hemorrhage (cSAH) are important imaging predictors for recurrent ICH. CAA also causes cognitive problems in multiple domains. In patients with nondemented CAA, the risk of developing dementia is high especially after ICH. CAA pathology probably starts years before the first clinical manifestations. The first signs in hereditary CAA are white matter lesions, cortical microinfarcts, and impaired occipital cerebral vasoreactivity. Visible centrum semiovale perivascular spaces, lobar located lacunes, and cortical atrophy are new nonhemorrhagic MRI markers.

Summary

CAA should be in the differential diagnosis of elderly patients with lobar ICH but also in those with cognitive decline and episodic transient neurological symptoms. Physicians should be aware of the cognitive effects of CAA. In patients with a previous ICH, cSS, or cSAH, anticoagulation should be considered risky. The increasing number of MRI markers may help to discriminate CAA from other small vessel diseases and dementia subtypes.

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