Cerebral small vessel disease and vascular cognitive impairment: from diagnosis to management

Maria Clara Zanon Zotin, Lukas Sveikata, Anand Viswanathan, Pinar Yilmaz

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

91 Citations (Scopus)


PURPOSE OF REVIEW: We present recent developments in the field of small vessel disease (SVD)-related vascular cognitive impairment, including pathological mechanisms, updated diagnostic criteria, cognitive profile, neuroimaging markers and risk factors. We further address available management and therapeutic strategies. RECENT FINDINGS: Vascular and neurodegenerative pathologies often co-occur and share similar risk factors. The updated consensus criteria aim to standardize vascular cognitive impairment (VCI) diagnosis, relying strongly on cognitive profile and MRI findings. Aggressive blood pressure control and multidomain lifestyle interventions are associated with decreased risk of cognitive impairment, but disease-modifying treatments are still lacking. Recent research has led to a better understanding of mechanisms leading to SVD-related cognitive decline, such as blood-brain barrier dysfunction, reduced cerebrovascular reactivity and impaired perivascular clearance. SUMMARY: SVD is the leading cause of VCI and is associated with substantial morbidity. Tackling cardiovascular risk factors is currently the most effective approach to prevent cognitive decline in the elderly. Advanced imaging techniques provide tools for early diagnosis and may play an important role as surrogate markers for cognitive endpoints in clinical trials. Designing and testing disease-modifying interventions for VCI remains a key priority in healthcare.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)246-257
Number of pages12
JournalCurrent Opinion in Neurology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

Financial support and sponsorship:
L.S. was supported by a scholarship from the Swiss National Science Foundation [P2GEP3_191584].

Publisher Copyright: Copyright © 2021 The Author(s). Published by Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.


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