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Alzheimer's Disease

Cerebral Atrophy and Alzheimer's

07/10/2007

Question:

I am a 51 year old female who has had an MRI for headaches. My results showed mild cerebral atrophy and multiple subcortical foci possibly due to small vessel disease. My doctor says not to worry and that she would check it again in a year. My mother died of Alzheimer's disease at age 71.

Is my doctor right or should I seek a second opinion?

Answer:

It depends -- there is a slight degree of shrinkage of the brain that typically develops of change, and the development of white matter changes near the ventricles is also rather common with aging. If either of these goes beyond what is typical for the age of 51, then it is of concern. Otherwise, it is what is typically observed with aging.

However, it should be noted that regardless of the MRI, Alzheimer’s disease is very common, and more so with a family history. Memory loss is, of course, the issue to monitor for the possibility of the development of this condition.

For more information:

Go to the Alzheimer's Disease health topic, where you can:

Response by:

David Q Beversdorf, MD David Q Beversdorf, MD
Formerly
Assistant Professor of Clinical Neurobehavior and Neurology
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University