Background: The present study investigated the prevalence of cognitive deficits in acute lacunar stroke, validated the Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE) in detecting cognitive impairments in lacunar patients, and identified predictors of such deficits.
Methods: Seventy-one patients with lacunar stroke performed a comprehensive cognitive screening between day 2 and day 7 of their stay. The test battery included Trail Making Test A, Verbal Fluency, Object Learning Test, Ullevål Aphasia Screening, and Assessment of Stroke and other Brain Damage regarding motor apraxia, rational apraxia and visuospatial ability.
Results: Exactly 57.7% scored outside cutoff in at least one of the cognitive tests. Using a rigorous cutoff for MMSE (28/29 points) and the test battery as comparison, the sensitivity and specificity of MMSE were 0.69 and 0.67, respectively. Only male sex was significantly related to the presence of cognitive deficits (pathologic score on at least one of the tests--odds ratio 4.41, 95% confidence interval 1.45-13.43).
Conclusion: Many lacunar stroke patients suffer cognitive problems. Male patients are at particular risk. MMSE failed to identify 30% of the patients diagnosed with cognitive deficits, and we suggest that lacunar stroke patients be offered a comprehensive cognitive screening, even when MMSE is normal.