Apathy has recently been recognised as an important symptom in patients with Cerebral Small Vessel Disease (SVD) describes disease of the small arteries that penetrate deep down into the brain and is particularly associated with high blood pressure. It can also cause small strokes (lacunar strokes) and cognitive impairment. In previous studies we have shown that both depression and apathy are common in SVD and that they have a major impact on quality of life. We have been funded by a Stroke Association Priority Programme Grant to extend this work, looking at the importance of apathy in SVD, and developing ways to treat it.
Apathy is common after stroke and could have an effect on recovery, perhaps by affecting how patients interact and benefit from therapy. In this project, which forms part of our Apathy Programme grant, we are determined whether apathy after stroke affects the degree to which patients recover from their stroke. We are extending this work to determine whether changes of SVD (detected on MRI scans) themselves determine whether patients develop apathy after stroke, and whether they therefore affect recovery. Our hypothesis is that those patients with stroke who have coexistent SVD on their MRI scans will have more apathy and that this in turn will result in less good recovery from the stroke.
To answer this question we are recruiting 200 patients with a variety of types of stroke from Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge. We will carry out various tests of apathy, recovery scales and tests of cognition. We will follow patients for one year.
The study is adopted on the Clinical Research Network (CRN) portfolio.