White Matter Disease

White Matter Disease Life Expectancy in Adults

The average life expectancy of a person with white matter disease is around 70 years old. This means that if you are over 60 years old, your life expectancy will be lower than someone without white matter disease.

However, there are many factors which influence the length of one’s life span: age, gender, health status (physical and mental), genetics and so on.

In general, white matter disease is not fatal but it is definitely long lasting. It can cause problems such as memory loss, depression and other physical symptoms.

People with white matter disease may have difficulty performing daily activities such as driving or working. They may also experience difficulties in social situations due to their poor concentration and inability to follow conversations.

People with white matter disease may suffer from dementia later in life and eventually die because of it.

What is Periventricular White Matter Disease?

Periventricular white matter disease (PWMD) is a type of diffuse axonal injury (DIA). DIA occurs when the blood vessels supplying the brain become damaged due to a sudden increase in pressure. These lesions affect different parts of the brain. PWMD affects only certain areas of the cerebral cortex and does not involve any other regions of the brain.

Before we discuss treatment options, it is important to understand the effects of PWMD. It is difficult to identify the exact symptoms of PWMD because the condition is so new.

We do know that it causes problems with memory, attention, and problem-solving skills. It can also cause dizziness, clumsiness and difficulty walking. There is no single test for diagnosing PWMD. A doctor will use various tools such as an MRI scan and a cognitive test to make a diagnosis.

There is no known cure for PWMD but there are ways of treating the condition. Treatments focus on reducing the cognitive and physical symptoms of PWMD.

Exercise, dieting and psychological help can have a big impact on the outcome of treatment. There are also drugs which can be used to improve memory, increase attention span, and reduce anxiety.

Sources & references used in this article:

Vanishing white matter disease by MS van der Knaap, JC Pronk, GC Scheper – The Lancet Neurology, 2006 – Elsevier

Understanding white matter disease: imaging-pathological correlations in vascular cognitive impairment by S Black, FQ Gao, J Bilbao – Stroke, 2009 – Am Heart Assoc

Diffuse white-matter disease in the geriatric population. A clinical, neuropathological, and CT study. by K Goto, N Ishii, H Fukasawa – Radiology, 1981 – pubs.rsna.org

Age-related cerebral white matter disease (leukoaraiosis): a review by BE Grueter, UG Schulz – Postgraduate medical journal, 2012 – pmj.bmj.com

White matter disease and dementia by SM Rao – Brain and cognition, 1996 – Elsevier

Syndrome of nonverbal learning disabilities: The final common pathway of white-matter disease/dysfunction? by BP Rourke – The Clinical Neuropsychologist, 1987 – Taylor & Francis

White matter disease in AIDS: findings at MR imaging. by WL Olsen, FM Longo, CM Mills, D Norman – Radiology, 1988 – pubs.rsna.org