In 2,000 consecutive stroke patients collected in a prospective hospital-based stroke registry over a 10-year period, we assessed whether stroke in men and women was different in respect to vascular risk factors, clinical features and natural history. The frequency of the different variable in men and women was analyzed by means of univariate analysis and logistic regression models. Women accounted for 48% of the study population (n = 967) and were older than men (mean age 75 vs. 69 years, p < 0.001). In the age group of 85 years or older, stroke was more frequent in women than in men (69.8 vs. 30.2%, p < 0.001). Women showed a higher frequency of cardioembolic infarction and a lower occurrence of lacunar infarction and stroke of undetermined cause than men. In-hospital mortality (17.4 vs. 13.3%) and length of hospital stay (19.6 vs. 16.7 days) was significantly higher (p < 0.001) in women than in men. In the model based on demographic variables and cardiovascular risk factors, obesity, heart failure, atrial fibrillation and age were significant predictors of stroke in women, while intermittent claudication, ischemic heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cigarette smoking and alcohol abuse were predictors in male sex. Hypertension and limb weakness were predictors for stroke in women, and absence of neurological deficit at hospital discharge, lacunar syndrome and ataxia were predictors in men in the models based on all variables. Women differ from men in the distribution of risk factors and stroke subtype, stroke severity and outcome. Differences in stroke pathology and/or differences in functional anatomy or plasticity of the brain between sexes may account for these findings.
Copyright 2001 S. Karger AG, Basel