Ischemic stroke subtypes: A population-based study of functional outcome, survival, and recurrence

George W. Petty, Robert D. Brown, Jack P. Whisnant, Jo Rean D. Sicks, W. Michael O'Fallon, David O. Wiebers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

551 Scopus citations


Background and Purpose - There is scant population-based information on functional outcome, survival, and recurrence for ischemic stroke subtypes. Methods - We identified all residents of Rochester, Minnesota, with a first ischemic stroke from 1985 through 1989 using the resources of the Rochester Epidemiology Project medical records linkage system. After reviewing medical records and imaging studies, we assigned patients to 4 major ischemic stroke categories based on National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke Data Bank criteria: large-vessel cervical or intracranial atherosclerosis with stenosis (ATH, n = 74), cardioembolic (CE, n = 132), lacunar (LAC, n = 72), and infarct of uncertain cause (IUC, n = 164). We used the Rankin disability score to assess functional outcome and the Kaplan-Meier product- limit method and Cox proportional hazards regression analysis with bootstrap validation to estimate rates and identify predictors of survival and recurrent stroke among these patients. Results - Rankin disabilities were different across stroke subtypes at the time of stroke and 3 months and 1 year later (P = 0.001). LAC was associated with milder deficits compared with other subtypes. Mean follow-up among the 442 patients in the cohort was 3.2 years. Estimated rates of recurrent stroke at 30 days were significantly different (P < 0.001): ATH, 18.5% (95% CI 9.4% to 27.5%); CE, 5.3% (95% CI 1.2% to 9.6%); LAC, 1.4% (95% CI 0.0% to 4.1%); and IUC, 3.3% (95% CI 0.4% to 6.2%). After adjusting for age, sex, and stroke severity, infarct subtype was an independent determinant of recurrent stroke within 30 days (P = 0.0006; eg, risk ratio for ATH compared with CE = 3.3, 95% CI 1.2 to 9.3) but not long term (P = 0.07). Four of 25 recurrent strokes within 30 days were procedure-related, each in patients with ATH. Five-year death rates were significantly different (P < 0.001): ATH, 32.2% (95% CI 21.1% to 43.2%); CE, 80.4% (95% CI 73.1% to 87.6%); LAC, 35.1% (95% CI 23.6% to 46.0%); and IUC, 48.6% (95% CI 40.5% to 56.7%). With adjustment for age, sex, cardiac comorbidity, and stroke severity, the subtype of ischemic stroke was an independent determinant of long-term (P = 0.018; eg, risk ratio for ATH compared with cardioembolic = 0.47, 95% CI 0.29 to 0.77) but not 30-day survival (P = 0.2). Conclusions - Early recurrence rates for ischemic stroke caused by ATH are higher than those for other subtypes and higher than previous non-population-based studies have reported. Some of the increased risk of early recurrence among patients with ATH may be iatrogenic. Patients with LAC have better poststroke functional status than those with other subtypes. Survival is poorest among those with ischemic stroke with a cardiac source of embolism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1062-1068
Number of pages7
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2000


  • Cardioembolic stroke
  • Carotid artery diseases
  • Cerebral embolism
  • Epidemiology
  • Lacunar infarction
  • Survival
  • Thrombosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Advanced and Specialized Nursing


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