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Young stroke survivors with no early recurrence at high long‐term risk of adverse outcomes

Edwards JD, Kapral MK, Lindsay MP, Fang J, Swartz RH. J Am Heart Assoc. 2018; 8(1):e010370. Epub 2018 Dec 19.


Background — Approximately 8% to 21% of strokes affect adults aged <45 years. Although early stroke recurrence conveys the largest risk, long‐term risks for young survivors with no early complications are unclear.

Methods and Results — Longitudinal matched case‐control study (2003–2013). Consecutive patients with ischemic stroke or transient ischemic attack (young, ≤44 years) discharged from emergency or regional stroke centers in Ontario, Canada, with no death, recurrent stroke/transient ischemic attack, myocardial infarction, all‐cause hospitalization, or admission to a long‐term or continuing care facility (≤90 days) were matched 10:1 to general population controls on age (±1 year), sex, income, geography, and case date (±50 days). The primary outcome was a composite of death, stroke, myocardial infarction, and long‐term or continuing care facility admission at 1, 3, and 5 years. Absolute event rates for young stroke/transient ischemic attack patients were lower than for older patients at 1 (2.2% versus 9.9%), 3 (4.7% versus 24.6%), and 5 (7.1% versus 37.2%) years. However, piecewise constant hazard modeling revealed that, even after adjustment for vascular comorbidities, young patients showed a 7‐fold increased hazard of the composite outcome compared with young controls at 1 year (hazard ratio, 7.3; 95% CI, 4.0–13.6). Adjusted 5‐year piecewise hazard also remained >5× that of young controls (hazard ratio, 5.2; 95% CI, 2.8–9.4), compared with a 30% increase at 5 years for older patients (hazard ratio, 1.3; 95% CI, 1.3–1.4).

Conclusions — Young stable stroke/transient ischemic attack survivors show a higher long‐term hazard of adverse outcomes compared with matched controls than older patients. Findings support the need for long‐term follow‐up and aggressive risk reduction in young survivors and suggest secondary prevention guidelines for these patients are required.

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