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Cognitive impairment predicts poststroke death in long-term follow-up
  1. N K J Oksala1,2,
  2. H Jokinen3,4,
  3. S Melkas3,
  4. A Oksala2,
  5. T Pohjasvaara3,
  6. M Hietanen3,4,
  7. R Vataja3,
  8. M Kaste3,
  9. P J Karhunen2,
  10. T Erkinjuntti3
  1. 1
    Division of Vascular Surgery, Department of Surgery, Tampere University Hospital, Tampere, Finland
  2. 2
    School of Medicine, Forensic Medicine, University of Tampere and the Laboratory Centre Research Unit, Tampere University Hospital, Tampere, Finland
  3. 3
    Department of Neurology, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Helsinki, Finland
  4. 4
    Department of Psychology, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
  1. Correspondence to Dr N Oksala, Department of Surgery and Forensic Medicine, Medical School, University of Tampere and Tampere University Hospital, 33014 University of Tampere, Finland; niku.oksala{at}


Background: Poststroke global cognitive decline and dementia have been related to poor long-term survival. Whether deficits in specific cognitive domains are associated with long-term survival in patients with ischaemic stroke is not known in detail.

Methods: Patients with acute stroke subjected to comprehensive neuropsychological evaluation were included in the study (n = 409) and followed up for up to 12 years.

Results: In Kaplan–Meier analysis, impairments in following cognitive domains predicted poor poststroke survival (estimated years): executive functions (48.2%) (5.8 vs 10.1 years, p<0.0001), memory (59.9%) (6.8 vs 9.3 years, p = 0.009), language (28.9%) (5.3 vs 8.6 years, p = 0.004) and visuospatial/constructional abilities (55.2%) (5.6 vs 10.1 years, p<0.0001). Low Mini Mental Status Examination (MMSE) ⩽25 (30.5%) (4.4 vs 9.3 years, p<0.0001), low education (<6 years) (31.8%) (6.4 vs 8.2 years, p = 0.003) and poor modified Rankin score (39.9%) (3.9 vs 9.7 years, p<0.0001) were also related to poor survival. In Cox regression proportional hazards analyses including age, sex and years of education as covariates, deficits in executive functions (hazard ratio (HR) 1.59, p<0.0001), memory (HR 1.31, p = 0.042), language (HR 1.33, p = 0.036) and visuospatial/constructional abilities (HR 1.82, p<0.0001) were significant predictors of poor poststroke survival. Of these, executive functions (HR 1.33, p = 0.040) as well as visuospatial/constructional abilities (HR 1.53, p = 0.004) remained as significant predictors after addition of MMSE⩽25 and poor modified Rankin score as covariates. Furthermore, cognitive impairment no dementia (CIND) was also an independent predictor of poor poststroke survival (HR 1.63, p = 0.0123).

Conclusions: In patients with ischaemic stroke, cognitive impairment, particularly in executive functions, and visuospatial/constructional abilities relate to poor survival.

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  • Funding This study was supported by grants from the Maire Taponen Foundation; the Paavo Nurmi Foundation; The Finnish Angiologic Association; the Medical Council of the Academy of Finland (Helsinki); the Clinical Research Institute, Helsinki University Central Hospital; the Yrjö Jahnsson Foundation (Helsinki); the Finnish Cultural Foundation and the Elli and Elvi Oksanen Fund of the Pirkanmaa Fund under the auspices of the Finnish Cultural Foundation (Tampere); the Medical Research Fund of Tampere University Hospital; the Finnish Medical Foundation; and the Finnish Foundation for Cardiovascular Research (Helsinki).

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval Ethics approval was provided by the Department of Clinical Neurosciences, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Finland.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Provenance and Peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.