Small Vessel Brain Disease is a non-specific finding on MRI that sometimes, but not always, results in clinically detectable symptoms. It is very common after 50, and is often accelerated in persons with diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and in smokers, as well as in an assortment of rheumatologic conditions and the like.
It can lead to focal neurological signs (e.g. numbness. weakness, trouble swallowing, etc) but more often than not results in more diffuse and subtle changes in cognition (e.g. memory loss, poor concentration, impaired analytical skills, etc), sometimes progressing to dementia.
The prognosis depends on the cause or causes and how well one is able to reduce one's risk factors. As it is not directly treatable or curable, the prognosis can be highly variable and may be influenced by one's genetics, one's environment, and one's other illnesses. Strict control of blood pressure, cholesterol, sugar levels and stress levels can all be important parts of reducing the progression. Some patients take a baby aspirin every day to thin the blood and help improve circulation in the small blood vessels of the brain.