Long-term prognosis of cerebral ischemia in young adults. National Research Council Study Group on Stroke in the Young

C Marini, R Totaro, A Carolei
Stroke; a Journal of Cerebral Circulation 1999, 30 (11): 2320-5

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Prognosis of ischemic stroke in young adults is reported as favorable, and transient ischemic attack (TIA) is commonly considered a benign event. We investigated long-term outcome and prognostic predictors of cerebral ischemia in patients under 45 years of age.

METHODS: Three hundred thirty-three patients aged 15 to 44 years who suffered from a first-ever TIA or ischemic stroke were prospectively followed up with annual clinical evaluation or complete phone interview. End points were the composite outcome event of stroke, myocardial infarction, and vascular or nonvascular death and death from all causes. The probability of event-free survival was estimated by the Kaplan-Meier method. Univariate and multivariate estimates of hazard ratios were calculated according to the Cox proportional hazards analysis.

RESULTS: An average follow-up of 96 months was available in 330 patients (99.1%). Survival was worse in patients with stroke at entry (86.5%) than in those with TIA (97.1%). Mortality in both groups was significantly higher than in the general population (standardized mortality ratio [SMR] 14.5, P<0.0001, Poisson distribution test, and SMR 7.9, P=0.002). The average annual mortality rate was higher during the first (3.94%, 95% CI 1.84 to 6. 04) than in the subsequent years. The average annual incidence rate of new stroke was higher in patients with stroke than in those with TIA at entry, and it declined from 1.56% (95% CI 0.21 to 2.91) during the first year to 0.06% (95% CI 0.04 to 0.08) at the end of the follow-up. Myocardial infarction occurred later, after the first year, with similar rates in patients with stroke and TIA at entry. The average annual rates of new stroke (2.36%), myocardial infarction (1.68%), and death (3.05%) were higher in patients with the mixed atherothrombotic and cardioembolic etiology than in the remaining patients. Male gender, age >35 years, stroke at entry, and cardiac diseases were independent predictors of the composite outcome event at the Cox regression analysis, whereas only stroke at entry and cardiac diseases predicted death from all causes.

CONCLUSIONS: Stroke and TIA in young adults have severe prognostic implications, because the mortality risk was highly increased with respect to the general population. Preventive measures are strongly recommended in the presence of any unfavorable prognostic profile.

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