A new systematic review and meta-analysis of 81 studies investigating neuropsychiatric symptoms in cerebral small vessel disease, suggests that apathy, fatigue, and delirium are associated with more severe disease. Researchers hope that these subtle symptoms could be used to screen individuals at high risk of developing the disease.
Cerebral small vessel disease is a disorder where blood vessels in the brain become damaged and cause injury to surrounding brain tissue. The condition is a common cause of vascular dementia, the second most common form of dementia, but is often considered clinically ‘silent’ before dementia or stroke become apparent. Small vessel disease is easily identifiable on brain scans, even before people develop dementia or stroke.
To determine whether symptoms could be detected at these earliest stages of disease, before the brain becomes severely damaged, a team of researchers and clinicians from the UK DRI at Edinburgh performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of previous studies in this area. Led by Prof Joanna Wardlaw CBE, the team examined 81 studies, which included data from approximately 22,000 participants.