The validity of a clinical classification system was assessed for subtypes of cerebral infarction for use in clinical trials of putative stroke therapies and clinical decision making in a population based stroke register (n = 536) compiled in Perth, Western Australia in 1989-90. The Perth Community Stroke Project (PCSS) used definitions and methodology similar to the Oxfordshire Community Stroke Project (OCSP) where the classification system was developed. In the PCSS, 421 cases of cerebral infarction and primary intracerebral haemorrhage (PICH), confirmed by brain imaging or necropsy, were classified into the subtypes total anterior circulation syndrome (TACS), partial anterior circulation syndrome (PACS), lacunar syndrome (LACS), and posterior circulation syndrome (POCS). In this relatively unselected population, relying exclusively on LACS for a diagnosis of PICH had a very low sensitivity (6%) and positive predictive value (3%). Comparison of the frequencies and outcomes (at one year after the onset of symptoms) for each subgroup of first ever cerebral infarction in the PCSS (n = 248) with the OCSP (n = 543) registers showed uniformity only for LACI. For example, there were 27% of cases of TACI in the PCSS compared with 17% in the OCSP (difference = 10%; 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 4% to 16%) and 15% of cases in the PCSS compared with 24% in the OCSP were POCI (difference = 9%; 95% CI 3% to 15%). Case fatalities and long-term handicap across the subgroups were not significantly different between studies, but the frequencies of recurrent stroke were significantly greater for POCI in the OCSP compared with the PCSS. Although this classification system defines subtypes of stroke with different outcomes, simple clinical measures-level of consciousness, paresis, disability, and incontinence at onset-are more powerful predictors of death or dependency at one year. It is concluded that simple clinical measures that reflect the severity of the neurological deficit should complement this classification system in clinical trials and practice.
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