Objective: Data on recurrence of vascular events and their prognostic factors in young (<50 years of age) stroke patients are not well defined.
Methods: We assessed the occurrence of arterial thrombotic events in consecutive first-ever ischemic stroke patients aged 15 to 49 years entered into the Helsinki Young Stroke Registry (January 1994-October 2004) within 5-year follow-up. Follow-up was conducted with a structured telephone interview or letter, and review of all patient records; mortality data came from Statistics Finland. Primary outcomes were (1) nonfatal or fatal recurrent ischemic stroke; (2) nonfatal or fatal myocardial infarct, other arterial thrombotic event, or revascularization procedure; and (3) any combination of these, whichever occurred first (composite endpoint). We used Kaplan-Meier analysis to estimate cumulative risks and Cox proportional hazard model-adjusted for age, gender, relevant risk factors, and stroke subtype-for identifying predictors of recurrence.
Results: In the 807 patients followed (mean age, 41.5 ± 7.4 years; 62.9% male), cumulative 5-year recurrence rate was 9.4% (95% confidence interval [CI], 7.3-11.5%) for nonfatal or fatal ischemic stroke, 2.4% (95% CI, 1.3-3.5%) for nonfatal or fatal myocardial infarct or other arterial endpoint, and 11.5% (95% CI, 9.2-13.7%) for the composite endpoint. Independent predictors of the composite endpoint were type 1 diabetes mellitus (hazard ratio [HR], 4.39; 95% CI, 2.28-8.45), large-artery atherosclerosis underlying the index stroke (HR, 2.82; 95% CI, 1.36-5.83), heart failure (HR, 2.96; 95% CI, 1.17-7.50), previous transient ischemic attack (HR, 2.33; 95% CI, 1.40-3.88), and increasing age (HR, 1.05; 95% CI, 1.01-1.10).
Interpretation: Despite their young age, these individuals were at marked risk of recurrent arterial events, predicted by mostly modifiable baseline factors.