Aphasia, depression, and cognitive dysfunction are common consequences of stroke, but knowledge of their interrelationship is limited. This 1-year prospective study was designed to evaluate prevalence and course of post-stroke aphasia and to study its psychiatric, neurological, and cognitive correlates. We studied a series of 106 consecutive patients (46 women and 60 men, mean age 65. 8 years) with first-ever ischaemic brain infarction. The patients were clinically examined, and presence and type of aphasia were evaluated during the 1st week after stroke and 3 and 12 months later. Psychiatric and neuropsychological evaluations were performed 3 and 12 months after stroke. Aphasia was diagnosed in 34% of the patients during the acute phase, and two thirds of them remained so 12 months later. Seventy percent of the aphasic patients fulfilled the DSM-III-R criteria of depression 3 months and 62% 12 months after stroke. The prevalence of major depression increased from 11 to 33% during the 12-month follow-up period. The non-verbal neuropsychological test performance in the aphasic patients was significantly inferior to that of the patients with dominant hemisphere lesion without aphasia. One third of the patients with ischaemic stroke suffer from communicative disorders which seem to increase the risk of depression and non-verbal cognitive deficits. Although the prevalence of depression in aphasic patients decreases in the long term, the proportion of patients suffering from major depression seems to increase. We emphasize the importance of the multidimensional evaluation of aphasic stroke patients.
Copyright 2000 S. Karger AG, Basel