Markers of cerebrovascular disease are common in dementia, and may be present before dementia onset. However, their clinical relevance in midlife adults at risk of future dementia remains unclear. We investigated whether the Cardiovascular Risk Factors, Ageing and Dementia (CAIDE) risk score was associated with markers of cerebral small vessel disease (SVD), and if it predicted future progression of SVD. We also determined its relationship to systemic inflammation, which has been additionally implicated in dementia and SVD.
Cognitively healthy midlife participants were assessed at baseline (n=185) and 2-year follow-up (n=158). To assess SVD, we quantified white matter hyperintensities (WMH), enlarged perivascular spaces (EPVS), microbleeds and lacunes. We derived composite scores of SVD burden, and subtypes of hypertensive arteriopathy and cerebral amyloid angiopathy. Inflammation was quantified using serum C-reactive protein (CRP) and fibrinogen.
At baseline, higher CAIDE scores were associated with all markers of SVD and inflammation. Longitudinally, CAIDE scores predicted greater total (p<0.001), periventricular (p<0.001) and deep (p=0.012) WMH progression, and increased CRP (p=0.017). Assessment of individual CAIDE components suggested that markers were driven by different risk factors (WMH/EPVS: age/hypertension, lacunes/deep microbleeds: hypertension/obesity). Interaction analyses demonstrated that higher CAIDE scores amplified the effect of age on SVD, and the effect of WMH on poorer memory.
Higher CAIDE scores, indicating greater risk of dementia, predicts future progression of both WMH and systemic inflammation. Findings highlight the CAIDE score’s potential as both a prognostic and predictive marker in the context of cerebrovascular disease, identifying at-risk individuals who might benefit most from managing modifiable risk.