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Stroke. 2001 Jan;32(1):52-6.

Stroke in young adults in the community-based L'Aquila registry: incidence and prognosis.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, University of L'Aquila, L'Aquila, Italy.



Stroke type in the young may influence the outcome and may have a dramatic impact on the quality of life in survivors. This study aimed to evaluate the incidence and prognosis of first-ever stroke in the young and to make comparisons with older patients within a well-defined population.


All first-ever strokes occurring in the L'Aquila district, central Italy, were traced by active monitoring of inpatient and outpatient health services. Incidence rates were standardized to the 1996 European population according to the direct method. Long-term survival was estimated by the Kaplan-Meier method; outcome in survivors was evaluated by the modified Rankin scale.


Of 4353 patients who had a first-ever stroke, 89 patients <45 years of age (55 men and 34 women) (2%) were identified in a 5-year period. Mean age+/-SD was 36.1+/-8.1 years. Twenty patients (22.5%) had a subarachnoid hemorrhage, 18 (20.2%) an intracerebral hemorrhage, and 51 (57.3%) a cerebral infarction. The corresponding proportions in patients >45 years of age were 2.4%, 13.3%, and 83.1%. Neuroimaging studies of the brain detected 14 intracranial aneurysms and 6 arteriovenous malformations in 20 of 38 patients (52.6%) with either subarachnoid (n=17) or intracerebral (n=3) hemorrhage. The crude annual incidence rate was 10.18/100,000 (95% CI, 8.14 to 12.57) and 10.23/100,000 when standardized to the 1996 European population. The 30-day case-fatality rate was 11.2% (95% CI, 6.2 to 19.4). Patients with subarachnoid hemorrhage had the highest proportion of good recovery (60%), patients with intracerebral hemorrhage had the highest mortality (44%), and patients with cerebral infarction had the highest proportion of severe disability (47%).


Stroke patients <45 years of age showed a disproportionate cumulative high prevalence (42.7%) of subarachnoid and intracerebral hemorrhage with respect to older patients (15.7%), mainly (52.6%) due to aneurysms and arteriovenous malformations. Therefore, screening procedures and preventive strategies in the young should also be addressed to subjects at risk of subarachnoid and intracerebral hemorrhage.

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