Prevalence, risk factors and consequences of cerebral small vessel diseases: data from three Asian countries

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Cerebral small vessel disease (SVD) has been suggested to be more common in Asians compared with Caucasians. However, data from population-based studies in Asia are lacking. We report on the prevalence, risk factors and consequences of SVD from contemporary studies in three Asian countries using 3-Tesla MRI for the evaluation of SVD.


Clinical, cognitive and 3-Tesla brain MRI assessments were performed among participants of three studies from Singapore, Hong Kong and Korea. SVD markers include white matter hyperintensities (WMHs) using the modified Fazekas scale, lacunes and microbleeds. Cognition was assessed using the Mini Mental Status Examination (MMSE) and Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA). Adjustments were made for age, sex and cardiovascular risk factors.


A total of 1797 subjects were available for analysis (mean age: 70.1±6.3 years and 57% women). The prevalence of confluent WMH was 36.6%, lacunes, 24.6% and microbleeds, 26.9%. Presence of all three SVD markers showed a steeper increase with increasing age rising from 1.9% in the lowest to 46.2% in the highest 5-year age strata. The major risk factors for the increased severity of SVD markers were advancing age and hypertension. Moreover, increasing severity of SVD markers was independently associated with worse performance on MMSE and MoCA.


Elderly Asians have a high burden of SVD which was associated with cognitive dysfunction. This suggests that SVD markers should be a potential target for treatment in clinical trials so as to delay progression of cerebrovascular disease and potentially cognitive decline.

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