Multiple Silent Lacunes Are Associated with Recurrent Ischemic Stroke

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BACKGROUND: Silent lacunes are a common finding on brain imaging in ischemic stroke patients, but the prognostic significance of these lesions is uncertain. We aimed at investigating the association of silent lacunes and the risk of ischemic stroke recurrence, death, and cardiovascular events in a cohort of patients with incident ischemic stroke and no atrial fibrillation (AF).

METHODS: We included 786 patients (mean age 59.5 (SD 14.0); 42.9% females) in a registry-based, observational cohort study on patients with first-ever ischemic stroke. On brain MRI we assessed the number of silent lacunes as none, single, or multiple and we calculated stratified incidence rates of the outcomes. Cox proportional hazard ratios (HRs) adjusted for age, gender, congestive heart failure, hypertension, diabetes, and vascular disease were calculated with no silent lacunes as reference. In additional analyses, we further adjusted for white matter hyperintensities. Patients were followed up until death or recurrence of ischemic stroke.

RESULTS: In 81 (10.3%) patients, a single silent lacune was present, and in 87 (11.1%) patients, multiple silent lacunes were present. Patients with at least one silent lacune were older (mean age 66.1 vs. 57.7, p < 0.001) and were more often hypertensive (60.1 vs. 43.4%, p < 0.001) compared to patients with no silent lacunes. During a median follow-up time of 2.9 (interquartile range 3.1) years, we observed 53 recurrent ischemic strokes, 76 deaths, and 96 cardiovascular events. Incidence rates per 100 person-years of ischemic stroke recurrence were 1.6, 2.5, and 5.0 for none, single, and multiple silent lacunes respectively. Corresponding incidence rates were 2.6, 2.4, and 4.4 for death, and 3.4, 4.0, and 6.6 for cardiovascular events respectively. Adjusted HRs of ischemic stroke recurrence were 1.53 (0.67-3.49) and 2.52 (1.25-5.09) for a single and multiple silent lacunes, respectively. Further adjustment for white matter hyperintensities maintained positive association although not significant. Corresponding adjusted HRs were 0.56 (0.25-1.25) and 0.65 (0.33-1.25) for death and 1.16 (0.61-2.22) and 1.51 (0.86-2.66) for cardiovascular events.

CONCLUSIONS: In this large cohort of patients with incident ischemic stroke and no AF, an increasing number of silent lacunes was associated with increasing incidence rates of ischemic stroke recurrence. In the adjusted Cox proportional hazard analyses, the presence of multiple silent lacunes was significantly associated with an increased risk of ischemic stroke recurrence. The risk of death or cardiovascular events was not significantly influenced by the presence of silent lacunes.

TidsskriftCerebrovascular Diseases
Udgave nummer1-2
Sider (fra-til)73-80
Antal sider8
StatusUdgivet - 2016


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