The aetiology of strokes was studied in a hospital based series of patients aged up to 40 years with precise clinical and radiological criteria. One hundred and forty five patients (75 males and 73 females) aged five to 40 years with cerebral ischaemia were evaluated. Aetiology was heterogeneous and could be classified into seven groups. Cerebral arteriograms were performed in all cases and indicated the aetiological diagnosis in most patients. Embolism was the most frequent recognised abnormality (38.4%). There were no complications of arteriography. Arterial dissections discovered by arteriography were the cause of the stroke in 10.1% of the patients. Atherosclerosis was diagnosed in 32 cases and was the commonest cause (21.6%). In one fifth of cases no cause was found. Contraceptive drugs were considered as potential cause of ischaemic stroke in 11.5%, cardiac diseases in 12.8% and haematological disorders in 8.1%. Other potential causes included migraine, inflammatory diseases, pregnancy and lacunas. Follow up in 126 cases showed that many patients had good functional recovery.
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