A prospective study of cerebral ischemia in the young. Analysis of pathogenic determinants. The National Research Council Study Group.
The etiology of stroke in the young is different from that in older patients and remains unknown in almost one third of the cases. To gain further insight into both pathogenic and etiologic determinants, we prospectively studied a large number of consecutive young adults with focal cerebral ischemia.
Three hundred thirty-three patients aged 15-44 years with transient ischemic attack or ischemic stroke within the 8 weeks before hospital admission were recruited and investigated by using a standardized protocol of clinical evaluation, blood tests, electrocardiography, echocardiography, chest roentgenography, and brain computed tomography. Presumed etiology was diagnosed by prospectively applied criteria.
Women predominated (61%) among patients under 35 years of age, mainly due to the frequency of cerebral ischemia related to oral contraceptive use, while men outnumbered women (60%) among patients over that age because of a higher prevalence of atherothrombotic disease. Potential cerebral embolism of cardiac origin was the presumed cause of stroke in 23.7%, but conventional sources of emboli were found only in 7.5% of cases. There was a low prevalence of atrial fibrillation among young patients with cerebral ischemia. Mitral valve prolapse was found in 8.4%, as expected, predominantly (71.4%) among the younger patients. The prevalence of stroke over transient ischemic attack was proportional to the likelihood of cardiac embolism. Acute alcohol intoxication was considered a precipitating factor in only three patients. The percentages of cerebral ischemia attributed to arterial dissection (0.3%), oral contraceptive use in women (8.1%), migraine (1.2%), and other associated medical diseases (1.5%) were lower than reported in recent clinical series.
Two different groups of pathogenic determinants predominate in younger women and in older men, supporting public health measures aimed at strict medical control of the recognized cerebrovascular risk factors.
- Copyright © 1993 by American Heart Association