Stroke syndromes in young people

Clin Exp Neurol. 1981:18:132-44.


PIP: All contributory factors to the unusual occurrence of stroke in young people were evaluated in patients under age 40 admitted to the Stroke Unit of the Austin Hospital in Melbourne, Australia. Over the August 1977 to December 1980 period there were 700 admissions. Of these 14 patients were under the age of 40. There were 7 males and 7 females whose ages ranged from 17-38 years. Each patient was screened for factors which might contribute to premature vascular disease including hypertension, diabetes, smoking, obesity, and hyperlipidemia. In addition, the following tests were performed to exclude an arteritic process: full blood examination; ESR; protein electrophoresis; syphilis serology; and the presence of antinuclear factor. Each of the 14 patients suffered cerebral infarction. A summary of each case is presented in a table. In 9 patients, infarction occurred in the carotid territory of supply. Large cortical infarcts with or without subcortical involvement occurred in cases 1-8, of whom 5 had major vessel occlusion demonstrated angiographically and another had stenosing and ulcerative atheromatous disease at the extracranial carotid bifurcation. In a further 4 patients, infarction occurred within the vertebrobasilar territory and was either confined to the brain stem, the occiptal cortex, or involved both. Angiograms were performed in 2 of these patients and showed irregular narrowing of the vertebral artery which was interpreted as spasm and segmentally narrowing of the basilar artery. The final patient had several ischemic events which included right sided amaurosis fugax, and left frontal, right parieto-occipital and left occipital infarctions. Angiography was normal. All patients survived the stroke and were able to go home. There may be an interrelationship between the pathological findings of Irey et al. (1978) and the effect oral contraceptives (OCs) has on migraine. This is relevant to Case 13. Sustained exposure to OCs may produce the pathological changes described (visible as segmental narrowing angiographically). In 2 patients cerebral infarction was caused by atheromatous or hypertensive occlusive vascular disease. In Case 3 an embolus occluded the middle cerebral artery. Infarction complicating migraine was diagnosed confidently in 4 patients on the basis of typical migrainous symptomatology in the past and accompanying the stroke. Of the 12 patients fully evaluated, there were no cases of polycythemia or thrombocytosis. There were no abnormalities of the clotting factors. Almost every patient had some form of emotional upset, and there were 7 who had significant psychiatric illness and emotional problems of extreme magnitide.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alcoholic Intoxication / complications
  • Blood Coagulation Disorders / complications
  • Cerebrovascular Disorders / etiology*
  • Contraceptives, Oral / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Heart Diseases / complications
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Migraine Disorders / complications
  • Stress, Psychological / complications
  • Syndrome
  • Vascular Diseases / complications
  • Wounds and Injuries / complications


  • Contraceptives, Oral