Background and purpose: Although intracranial artery calcification (IAC) has been reported to be a risk factor for ischemic stroke, the prognostic implications of IAC in stroke outcome are unknown. The purpose of this study was to determine the association between IAC and risk of vascular events and death in patients with stroke after hospital discharge.
Methods: All patients with ischemic stroke over a 1-year period were included (n=302). IAC, assessed by multidetector CT, was defined as hyperdense foci (peak density>130 Hounsfield units) and assessed in the 7 major cerebral arteries. The IAC scores ranged from 0 (no calcification) to 7. Follow-up information on major clinical events (including fatal or nonfatal ischemic stroke, cardiac and peripheral artery events, and all-cause death) was obtained by means of a structured phone interview.
Results: IAC was present in 260 patients (83%). With a mean follow-up of 773±223 days, 88 major clinical events occurred in 67 patients (22%): 45 new ischemic vascular events (ischemic stroke: n=22; cardiac event: n=15; peripheral artery event: n=8) and 43 deaths from any cause. Patients with the highest IAC scores had significantly higher rates of death and vascular events than those with the lowest IAC scores (log rank test, P=0.029). In the Cox proportional hazards regression model, the IAC score was significantly associated with major clinical events (hazard ratio, 1.34; 95% CI, 1.11-1.61; P=0.002).
Conclusions: In patients with ischemic stroke, IAC detection may constitute a simple marker of a high risk of future major clinical events.