Elderly cryptogenic ischemic stroke (IS) patients with embolic stroke of undetermined source (ESUS) have a high risk of recurrent IS (RIS) compared to other stroke subtypes. In young ESUS patients, different sources of embolism may be a cause and the risk of RIS remains not enough established. The aim was to assess and compare risk of RIS between ESUS and non ESUS patients <50 years.
The study set consisted of young acute IS patients <50 years enrolled in the prospective HISTORY (Heart and Ischemic STrOke Relationship studY) study registered on ClinicalTrials.gov (NCT01541163). In all analyzed patients, the brain ischemia was confirmed on CT or MRI. All patients underwent identical diagnostic protocol including TEE and long-term ECG-Holter. Cause of IS was assessed according to the ASCOD classification.
Of 320 enrolled patients <50 years, 219 (68.4%) were identified as cryptogenic (119 males, mean age 41.4 ± 7.2 years) and 122 (38.1%) patients fulfilled the ESUS criteria. During the follow-up with a median of 34 months, three (2.5%) ESUS and 5 (5.2%) non-ESUS patients suffered from RIS (p = .471). One-year risk of RIS was 0.008 (95% CI: 0-0.025) for ESUS and 0.036 (95% CI: 0-0.076) for non-ESUS patients (p = .262).
The risk of RIS was very low in ESUS patients and did not differ from those with non-ESUS. Our finding may indicate that antiplatelet therapy can be effective in the secondary prevention in young ESUS patients if high-risk sources of embolization are excluded extensively.
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