Objectives: To report risk factors, aetiology and neuroimaging features among a large series of young Australian patients who were admitted to hospital for a first-ever occurrence of ischaemic stroke; to analyse the effect of age, sex and ethnicity on the presence of risk factors; and to compare Australian and overseas data.
Design, setting and patients: Retrospective evaluation of data for all patients aged from 15 to 50 years who were admitted to a public hospital in Adelaide, South Australia, from January 2006 to June 2010 with a primary diagnosis of ischaemic stroke.
Results: Among 326 patients (184 males), the most frequent stroke risk factors overall were dyslipidaemia (187), smoking (161), hypertension (105) and obesity (92). Fifty-one patients used illicit drugs, mostly comprising marijuana and amphetamines. The most frequent stroke aetiologies overall were cardioembolism (85), arterial dissection (49), and small-vessel occlusion (31). Cardioembolism was highly prevalent among our study population compared with patients in other countries. Neuroimaging showed that more patients in our study had strokes that involved both vascular territories concurrently (9%) compared with patients in other countries.
Conclusions: Risk factors, aetiology and features of ischaemic stroke among young people in Adelaide differ significantly from published data for young patients around the world. Patients in Adelaide are more likely to be obese, to be misusing marijuana and amphetamines, to suffer a cardioembolic event and to have a stroke that concurrently affects both the anterior and posterior cerebral circulation.