Background Stroke in aged patients has a relatively poor prognosis, even after recanalizing therapy. Potential reasons include mechanisms that relate directly to the extent of brain tissue damage, but also age-dependent factors which are not, or only indirectly, stroke-related, such as pre-existing functional deficits, comorbidities, and post-stroke complications (eg, infections).
Objective To compare early neurological course with subsequent functional outcome in older (≥80 years) and younger stroke patients in order to estimate the relative impact of these factors. Specifically, to examine if the strong age-dependency of modified Rankin Scale (mRS) outcome scores in stroke patients after mechanical thrombectomy is paralleled by a similar age dependency of early postinterventional National Institute of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS) scores—a more specific measure of stroke-induced brain damage.
Methods We evaluated technical results, pre- and postinterventional NIHSS scores, mid-term mRS scores and early and overall mortality and their relation to age in 125 patients, 40 of them ≥80 years, with acute middle cerebral artery occlusion, treated by mechanical thrombectomy.
Results Technical success, pre- and postinterventional NIHSS scores and early mortality were age-independent. Early neurological improvement depended on successful recanalization, but not on age. Nevertheless, good mRS outcome (mRS 0–2) was much rarer, and overall mortality almost threefold higher in aged patients.
Conclusions Older patients exhibit a similar early neurological course and responsiveness to mechanical thrombectomy as younger patients, but this is not reflected in mid-term functional outcome scores. This indicates that post-stroke complications and other factors that are not, or only indirectly, related to the brain tissue damage induced by the incident stroke have a dominant role in their poor prognosis.
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