RSNA: Study finds association between cardiac dysfunction and brain disease

CHICAGO—A multivariable regression analysis of a prospective, population-based study found subclinical cardiac dysfunction was associated with subclinical brain disease.

Lead researcher Hazel Zonneveld, MD, MSc, of Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and colleagues presented their results at the RSNA annual meeting.

They evaluated 2,342 participants from the Rotterdam Study and excluded those who had heart disease, dementia and strokes. The mean age was 56.6, and 57.4 percent of participants were males. Zonneveld said in a news release that previous studies showed MI, heart failure and atrial fibrillation were associated with an increased risk of stroke and dementia.

All participants underwent brain MRI on a 1.5-tesla MRI system, which provided the researchers with imaging for global brain structure, focal abnormalities and microstructural white matter integrity. The researchers used diffusion tensor imaging to obtain information on the microstructural organization of the brain’s white matter.

They also tested participants’ blood to measure N-terminal pro b-type natriuretic peptide (NT-proPBNP).

“Studies have demonstrated that NT-proBNP provides information on cardiac dysfunction even in the absence of overt heart disease,” Zonneveld said in a news release.

Based on multivariable linear and logistic regression models, higher NT-proBNP was associated with smaller total brain volume. There was a bigger difference in grey matter volume compared with white matter volume.

The researchers also found higher NT-proBNP was associated with larger white matter lesion and with lower fractional anisotropy and higher mean diffusivity in white matter.

Zonneveld said this was the first study to show an association between NT-proBNP and the brain’s microstructure.

“This implies that the heart and brain are intimately linked, even in presumably healthy individuals, and informs us importantly about development of disease as we age,” she said.