Multiple brain infarcts in young adults: clues for etiologic diagnosis and prognostic impact.
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: There are little data on the etiology of multiple brain infarcts (MBI) and their impact on clinical outcome in young patients. METHODS: We studied 548 MRI-imaged patients (15-49 years) with a first-ever ischaemic stroke. Ischaemic lesions were categorized into three groups: single lesions, MBI in one or >1 circulation territories. Outcomes were unfavorable 3-month modified Rankin Scale (mRS) score of ≥2 and, during long-term follow-up (mean 8.20 ± 4.01 years), recurrent ischaemic stroke or death from any cause. RESULTS: Multiple brain infarcts occurred in 185 patients (33.8%; mean age 39.2 ± 8.2), of which 144 patients (26.3%) had lesions located in a single territory and 41 patients (7.5%) in multiple territories. Patients with MBI in a single territory were more likely than patients with single lesions to have a high-risk source of cardioembolism (CE) (9.0% vs. 3.0%; P = 0.001), large-artery atherosclerosis (8.3% vs. 4.9%; P = 0.012), vertebral (22% vs. 10%; P < 0.001) or carotid artery dissections (8.3% vs. 6.3%; P = 0.036), and MBI in multiple territories a high-risk source of CE (34% vs. 3.0%, P < 0.001). Adjusted for age, gender, baseline stroke severity, size of the largest lesion, and stroke subtype, MBI remained independently associated with an unfavorable 3-month outcome (odds ratio 2.84, 95% confidence interval 1.22-6.61). In multivariate Cox proportional hazards analysis, MBI had independent influence on the risk for death (hazard ratio 3.75, 1.58-8.86), but not on recurrent ischaemic stroke. CONCLUSIONS: Compared with the elderly, young stroke patients have a distinct stroke etiology underlying MBI, being an independent indicator of poor short-term outcome and long-term risk of death. © 2012 The Author(s) European Journal of Neurology © 2012 EFNS.