Cerebrovascular diseases (Basel, Switzerland) 2017 09 1444(5-6) 285-290 doi 10.1159/000480123
Dysphagia is a frequent symptom in patients with acute stroke. It is associated with malnutrition, aspiration and mortality. The identification of early screening parameters for dysphagia promptly leading to a professional swallowing examination is therefore of utmost importance. This study aimed to detect early and easily assessable predictors of dysphagia in a large cohort of patients with acute ischemic stroke.
Our analysis was based on data from a prospective in-hospital registry. Patients with ischemic stroke were included over the course of 3 years. Patients were scheduled to undergo a clinical swallowing investigation within the first 24 h after hospital admission. Step-wise multivariate logistic regression was used to identify independent predictors of dysphagia in general and of pneumonia in particular.
1,646 patients with ischemic stroke were included. Stroke severity in terms of higher National Institute of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS) values (p < 0.001), male gender (p = 0.006) and higher age (p < 0.001) independently predicted dysphagia. A receiver operating characteristics analysis revealed an NIHSS cut-off value of 4.5 for optimal differentiation between patients with and without dysphagia (sensitivity 0.77; specificity 0.77). Dysphagia (p < 0.001), male gender (p = 0.002), higher NIHSS scores (p < 0.001) and higher age (p = 0.002) were factors that were independently associated with pneumonia. The NIHSS cut-off value for differentiating between patients with and without pneumonia was 5.5 (sensitivity 0.91; specificity 0.67). CONCLUSIONS
Stroke severity in terms of NIHSS is a simple and reliable predictor of dysphagia. Patients with NIHSS values ≥5 should be quickly directed towards a professional swallowing examination. Dysphagia was confirmed to be a strong predictor of pneumonia.