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Neurology. 2011 Feb 22;76(8):734-9. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0b013e31820db666.

Small-vessel disease relates to poor poststroke survival in a 12-year follow-up.

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Department of Neurology, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Helsinki, Finland.



We sought to compare ultra-long-term poststroke survival in small-vessel disease (SVD) vs non-SVD subtype of stroke.


We followed patients hospitalized with acute ischemic stroke (age 55-85) for 12 years. The diagnosis of SVD was based on the criteria of Trial of Org 10172 in Acute Stroke Treatment. A detailed medical history regarding the relevant risk factors was obtained. Stroke severity was assessed with the modified Rankin Scale (mRS) at 3 months. Influence of the SVD subtype of stroke was analyzed using Kaplan-Meier log-rank analysis with endpoint all-cause death, and Cox regression proportional hazards model was constructed for multivariate analysis. The association between SVD and causes of death (cardiac, brain-related, all other) was analyzed using Kaplan-Meier log-rank analysis.


Of the 486 patients, stroke etiology was SVD in 63 patients (13.0%). Median survival was 4.3 years for SVD and 7.9 years for non-SVD (p ≤ 0.001). In the stepwise Cox regression analysis adjusted for relevant confounders, independent predictors of death were SVD (hazard ratio [HR] 1.60, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.06-2.41), advanced age (HR 1.07, 95% CI 1.05-1.09), stroke severity (mRS 3-5 vs 1-2; HR 2.02, 95% CI 1.58-2.58), smoking (HR 1.44, 95% CI 1.10-1.88), and cardiac failure (HR 1.53, 95% CI 1.14-2.06). SVD was associated with cardiac cause of death (p = 0.021).


In this well-characterized ischemic stroke cohort of patients aged 55-85 years with a 12-year follow-up, acute index stroke attributable to SVD was associated with poorer long-term survival and higher risk for cardiac death than other stroke subtypes.

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