Dietary salt intake and hypertension are associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease including stroke. We aimed to explore the influence of these factors, together with plasma sodium concentration, in cerebral small vessel disease (SVD). In all, 264 patients with nondisabling cortical or lacunar stroke were recruited. Patients were questioned about their salt intake and plasma sodium concentration was measured; brain tissue volume and white-matter hyperintensity (WMH) load were measured using structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) while diffusion tensor MRI and dynamic contrast-enhanced MRI were acquired to assess underlying tissue integrity. An index of added salt intake (P = 0.021), pulse pressure (P = 0.036), and diagnosis of hypertension (P = 0.0093) were positively associated with increased WMH, while plasma sodium concentration was associated with brain volume (P = 0.019) but not with WMH volume. These results are consistent with previous findings that raised blood pressure is associated with WMH burden and raise the possibility of an independent role for dietary salt in the development of cerebral SVD.
- Aged Blood Pressure/physiology Cerebral Small Vessel Diseases/etiology/*pathology Cohort Studies Diffusion Tensor Imaging Female Humans Hypertension/complications/*pathology Image Enhancement Image Processing, Computer-Assisted Linear Models Magnetic Resonance Imaging Male Severity of Illness Index Sodium Chloride, Dietary/*adverse effects/blood Surveys and Questionnaires White Matter/*pathology