Objective: To evaluate the contribution of subjects 80 years old or older to the burden of ischemic stroke as compared with subjects younger than 80 years.
Methods: All first-ever ischemic strokes occurring in a 5-year period (1994 to 1998) in the population-based L'Aquila registry were traced. Incidence, total health care utilization, disability, and mortality were assessed in patients 80 years old or older, and differences with those younger than 80 years were assessed by univariate and survival analyses.
Results: One thousand three hundred sixteen of 3,594 first-ever ischemic strokes (36.6%) occurred in patients 80 years old or older, accounting on average for one-third of health care utilization. The crude annual incidence rate was 21.54 per 1,000 (95% CI 20.42 to 22.72). At the 1-year follow-up, 27.7% of patients had mild or no disability, 20.7% had severe disability, and 51.6% had died. With respect to patients under 80 years of age, older patients showed a higher proportion of women (61.3 vs 47.7%), atrial fibrillation (30.2 vs 20.7%), coronary heart disease (31.0 vs 23.4%), and peripheral arterial disease (14.6 vs 10.8%) and a lower proportion of cigarette smoking (15.3 vs 29.2%) and hypercholesterolemia (20.4 vs 29.4%). Thirty-day (34.6 vs 13.4%) and 1-year (51.6 vs 22.3%) mortality were higher in patients 80 years old or older than in those younger than 80, mostly in the presence of atrial fibrillation (hazard ratio [HR] was 1.39 for 30-day mortality and 1.37 for 1-year mortality) and diabetes mellitus (HR was 1.39 for 30-day mortality and 1.31 for 1-year mortality).
Conclusion: The burden of ischemic stroke is high in subjects 80 years old or older, contributing about one-third of health care utilization and 59.8% of deaths within 30 days.