Long-Term Cognitive Impairment After First-Ever Ischemic Stroke in Young Adults
Background and Purpose—Up to 14% of all ischemic strokes occur in young adults (<50 years). Poststroke cognitive performance is a decisive determinant of their quality of life. However, virtually no studies report on cognition after young stroke, especially not on the long term. This long-term perspective is important because young patients have a long life expectancy during which they start forming a family, have an active social life, and make decisive career moves. We aimed to evaluate the long-term cognitive outcome.
Methods—All consecutive patients between January 1, 1980, and November 1, 2010, with a first-ever young ischemic stroke were recruited for cognitive assessment, using a matched stroke-free population as a reference. Composite Z scores for 7 cognitive domains were calculated and the ANCOVA model was used (Bonferroni correction). A below average performance was defined as >1.0 SD below the age-adjusted mean of the controls and cognitive impairment as >1.5 SD.
Results—Two hundred seventy-seven patients and 146 matched controls completed cognitive assessment (mean follow-up, 11.0 years, SD, 8.2; age, 50.9 years, SD, 10.3). Long-term cognitive outcome after an ischemic stroke was worse in most cognitive domains compared with a nonstroke population. Up to 50% of the patients had a below average performance or cognitive impairment. Deficits in processing speed, working memory, and attention were most common.
Conclusions—Even 11 years after ischemic stroke in young adults, a substantial proportion of patients must cope with permanent cognitive deficits. These results have implications for information given to patients and rehabilitation services.
- Received January 11, 2013.
- Revision received March 1, 2013.
- Accepted March 19, 2013.
- © 2013 American Heart Association, Inc.