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Stroke. 2005 Apr;36(4):891-901. Epub 2005 Mar 10.

Are lacunar strokes really different? A systematic review of differences in risk factor profiles between lacunar and nonlacunar infarcts.

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Division of Clinical Neurosciences, University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom.



Differences in risk factors between lacunar and nonlacunar infarcts might support a distinct arterial pathological process underlying lacunar infarction.


We did a systematic review of studies comparing risk factors in patients with lacunar versus nonlacunar infarction. For each risk factor, we calculated study-specific and pooled relative risks (RRs) for lacunar versus nonlacunar infarction.


A total of 16 of 28 studies included risk factors in their ischemic stroke subtype definitions. Hypertension and diabetes appeared commoner among patients with lacunar versus nonlacunar infarction. However, analyses confined to studies using risk factor-free ischemic subtype definitions found only a marginal excess of hypertension with lacunar versus nonlacunar infarction (RR, 1.11; 95% CI, 1.04 to 1.19) and no difference for diabetes (RR, 0.95; 95% CI, 0.83 to 1.09). Atrial fibrillation and carotid stenosis were associated more with nonlacunar than lacunar infarction but less so when only studies using risk factor-free classifications were considered. Otherwise, there was no evidence of differences in risk factor profiles.


Risk factor-free ischemic stroke subtype classification methods should be used for comparing risk factor profiles between lacunar and nonlacunar subtypes.

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