Objective: To analyze the association between patient age and good functional outcome after ischemic stroke with special focus on young patients who were numerically underrepresented in previous evaluations.
Methods: Of 43,163 ischemic stroke patients prospectively enrolled in the Austrian Stroke Unit Registry, 6,084 (14.1%) were ≤55 years old. Functional outcome was available in a representative subsample of 14,256 patients free of prestroke disability, 2,223 of whom were 55 years or younger. Herein we analyzed the effects of age on good functional outcome 3 months after stroke (modified Rankin Scale score ≤2).
Results: Good outcome was achieved in 88.2% (unadjusted probability) of young stroke patients (≤55 years). In multivariable analysis, age emerged as a significant predictor of outcome independent of stroke severity, etiology, performance of thrombolysis, sex, risk factors, and stroke complications. When the age stratum 56-65 years was used as a reference, odds ratios (95% confidence interval [95% CI]) of good outcome were 3.4 (1.9-6.4), 2.2 (1.6-3.2), and 1.5 (1.2-1.9) for patients aged 18-35, 36-45, and 46-55 years and 0.70 (0.60-0.81), 0.32 (0.28-0.37), and 0.18 (0.14-0.22) for those aged 66-75, 76-85, and >85 years (p < 0.001). In absolute terms, the regression-adjusted probability of good outcome was highest in the age group 18-35 years and gradually declined by 3.1%-4.2% per decade until age 75 with a steep drop thereafter. Findings applied equally to sexes and patients with and without IV thrombolysis or diabetes.
Conclusions: Age emerged as a highly significant inverse predictor of good functional outcome after ischemic stroke independent of stroke severity, characteristics, and complications with the age-outcome association exhibiting a nonlinear scale and extending to young stroke patients.