Introduction: Cerebral amyloid angiopathy (CAA) is a common age-related small vessel disease (SVD). Patients without ICH typically present with transient focal neurological episodes (TFNEs) or cognitive symptoms. We sought to determine if SVD lesion burden differed between CAA patients first presenting with TFNEs versus cognitive symptoms.
Methods: A total of 647 patients presenting either to a stroke department (n=205) or an outpatient memory clinic (n=442), were screened for eligibility. Patients meeting modified Boston criteria for probable CAA were included and markers of SVD were quantified including cerebral microbleeds (CMBs), perivascular spaces, cortical superficial siderosis (cSS), and white matter hyperintensities (WMH). Patients were classified according to presentation symptoms (TFNEs vs cognitive). Total CAA-SVD burden was assessed using a validated summary score. Individual neuroimaging markers and total SVD burden were compared between groups using univariable and multivariable models.
Results: There were 261 probable CAA patients included. After adjustment for confounders, patients first seen for TFNEs (n=97) demonstrated a higher prevalence of cSS (p<.0001), higher WMH volumes (p=0.03) and a trend towards higher CMBs counts (p=.09). The total SVD summary score was higher in patients seen for TFNEs (adjusted OR per additional score point=1.46, 95%CI [1.16 - 1.84], p=0.013).
Conclusion: We present a large cohort of probable CAA patients without ICH and show that those first evaluated for TFNEs bear a higher burden of structural MRI SVD related damage compared to those first seen for cognitive symptoms. This study sheds light on CAA disease phenotypes, adds to the understanding of CAA clinical expression, and sets the basis for future works investigating CAA prognosis amongst phenotypes.