Objective: The aim of the present study was to examine the predictive value of cognitive impairment in the acute phase after stroke as a risk factor for long-term (six to ten months after stroke) depressive symptoms (DS) and a reduced quality of life (QOL), independent of demographic and neurological predictors.
Methods: We evaluated 143 patients within the first 3 weeks post-stroke. Predictor variables included domain-specific cognitive function, demographic data, vascular risk factors, lesion characteristics, and clinical factors. Predictor variables associated with long-term DS (Montgomery Asberg Depression Rating Scale >or=7) and QOL (Stroke-Specific Quality of Life Scale) were identified with multiple logistic and linear regression.
Results: Long-term DS were independently predicted by cognitive impairment at baseline, DS at baseline, female sex, diabetes mellitus, and previous TIA(s). Cognitive impairment, increasing age, and functional dependence predicted a reduced QOL, whereas hypercholesterolaemia predicted a better QOL. Among all cognitive disorders, unilateral neglect was the greatest risk factor for DS after 6 months, whereas a disorder in visual perception and construction affected QOL the most.
Conclusions: Cognitive impairment and vascular risk factors are important predictors of long-term DS and QOL after stroke. The prognostic value of cognition suggests a reactive component in the development or continuation of long-term DS.