The influence of gender and age on disability following ischemic stroke: the Framingham study

J Stroke Cerebrovasc Dis. 2003 May-Jun;12(3):119-26. doi: 10.1016/S1052-3057(03)00042-9.


The magnitude of disability among elderly stroke survivors is substantial. There have been few community-based estimates of the contribution gender and older age make to stroke-related disability and outcome. Using the original Framingham Study cohort, we documented gender-specific neurological deficits and disability differences in stroke survivors at six months post-stroke. Logistic regression analyses were performed to estimate odds ratios, comparing men and women, and adjusting for age, and age and stroke subtype. Age and gender-matched controls were then compared to distinguish stroke-related disability from disability associated with general aging. Results showed that almost half (43%) of all elderly stroke survivors in the cohort had moderate to severe neurological deficits. In the crude analyses, women were more dependent in ADLs (33.9% vs 15.6%), less likely to walk unassisted (40.3% vs 17.8%), and living in nursing homes (34.9 % vs 13.3%). After adjusting for age and stroke subtype, it was older age that accounted for the severity of disability. When compared to age and gender-matched controls, stroke cases were significantly more disabled in all domains studied. In this elderly cohort, more women experienced initial strokes and were more disabled at 6 months post-stroke than men. However, older age at stroke onset, not gender or stroke subtype, was associated with greater disability. Health care providers need to understand that strokes occur later in life for women and that because of age, women are at greater risk for disability and institutionalization.