Sex differences in presentation, severity, and management of stroke in a population-based study

Neurology. 2010 Mar 23;74(12):975-81. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0b013e3181d5a48f. Epub 2010 Feb 24.


Objectives: Women may have poorer outcomes after stroke than men because of differences in their acute management. We examined sex differences in presentation, severity, in-hospital treatment, and early mortality in a cohort of first-ever-in-a-lifetime stroke patients.

Methods: Data were collected from May 1, 1996, to April 30, 1999, in the North East Melbourne Stroke Incidence Study. Stroke symptoms, prestroke medical history, in-hospital investigations, admission and discharge medications, initial stroke severity, and 28-day mortality were recorded. Multivariable regression was used to estimate sex differences in treatment, investigations, and 28-day mortality.

Results: A total of 1,316 patients were included. Women were older (mean age 76 +/- 0.6 vs 72 +/- 0.6, p < 0.01), had more severe strokes (median NIH Stroke Scale score 6 vs 5, p < 0.01), and more likely to experience loss of consciousness (31% vs 23%, p = 0.003) and incontinence (22% vs 11%, p = 0.01) than men. Women were less often on lipid-lowering therapy on admission. Echocardiography and carotid investigations were less frequently performed in women due to greater age and stroke severity. Women had greater 28-day mortality (32% vs 21%, p < 0.001) and stroke severity (44% vs 36%, p = 0.01) than men, but adjustment for age, comorbidities, and stroke severity (for mortality only) completely attenuated these associations.

Conclusion: Sex differences seen in this study were mostly explained by women's older age, greater comorbidity, and stroke severity. The reasons for differences according to age may need further examination.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age of Onset
  • Aged
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Comorbidity
  • Confounding Factors, Epidemiologic
  • Dementia / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Health Status Disparities
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / epidemiology
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Models, Statistical
  • Myocardial Infarction / epidemiology
  • Regression Analysis
  • Sex Distribution
  • Sex Factors
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Stroke / epidemiology*
  • Survival Rate