Post-stroke depression, executive dysfunction and functional outcome

Eur J Neurol. 2002 May;9(3):269-75. doi: 10.1046/j.1468-1331.2002.00396.x.


The early diagnosis of vascular cognitive impairment has been challenged and executive control function has been suggested to be a rational basis for the diagnosis of vascular dementia. We sought to examine the correlates of executive dysfunction in a well-defined stroke cohort. A group of 256 patients from a consecutive cohort of 486 patients with ischaemic stroke, aged 55-85 years, was subjected to a comprehensive neuropsychological examination 3-4 months after ischaemic stroke and 188 of them in addition to detailed psychiatric examination. Basic and complex activities of daily living (ADLs) (bADLs and cADLs) post-stroke were assessed. The DSM-III-R criteria were used for the diagnosis of the depressive disorders. Altogether 40.6% (n=104) of the patients had executive dysfunction. The patients with executive dysfunction were older, had lower level of education, were more often dependent, did worse in bADLs and cADLs, had more often DSM-III dementia, had worse cognition as measured by Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE) and were more depressed as measured by the BECK depression scale, but not with the more detailed psychiatric evaluation. They had more often stroke in the anterior circulation and less often in the posterior circulation. The independent correlates of executive dysfunction were cADLs (OR 1.1, 95% CI 1.03-1.16), each point of worsening in cognition by MMSE (OR 1.7, 95% CI 1.42-1.97) and stroke in the posterior circulation area (OR 0.4, 95% CI 0.18-0.84). Clinically significant executive dysfunction is frequent after ischaemic stroke and is closely connected with cADLs and to overall cognitive status but could be distinguished from depression by detailed neuropsychological examination. Executive measures may detect patients at risk of dementia and disability post-stroke.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living*
  • Aged
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Cognition Disorders / epidemiology
  • Cognition Disorders / rehabilitation
  • Cohort Studies
  • Depression / diagnosis*
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Depression / rehabilitation
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Status Schedule
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Risk Factors
  • Stroke / epidemiology
  • Stroke / psychology*
  • Stroke Rehabilitation*