Comparison of Acute Ischemic Stroke Evaluation and the Etiologic Subtypes Between University and Nonuniversity Hospitals in Isfahan, Iran

Performing a proper causative workup for ischemic stroke patients is essential as it guides the direction of primary and secondary preventions. We aim to investigate the etiological evaluation of these patients in university and nonuniversity hospitals.

We enrolled subjects from the Persian Registry of Cardiovascular Disease-stroke. Stroke patients were categorized base on an etiological-based classification (Trial of Org 10172 in Acute Stroke Treatment or TOAST) into five groups. We also separated patients with ischemic stroke of undetermined etiology due to incomplete standard evaluation from ischemic stroke of undetermined etiology due to negative standard evaluation. The etiological subtypes and diagnostic evaluations were compared between the two hospital groups.

Ischemic stroke of undetermined etiology was the most common subtype overall (43%). The prevalence of ischemic stroke of undetermined etiology (incomplete standard evaluation) was significantly higher in patients evaluated in nonuniversity hospitals versus university hospital (46.2% vs. 22.3%). Patients with ischemic stroke of undetermined etiology (negative standard evaluation) and large-artery atherosclerosis were significantly more prevalent in university hospitals (10.3% vs. 4.6% and 13.9% vs. 4.4%, respectively). All diagnostic workups were performed more significantly for university hospital patients. Patients with Ischemic stroke of undetermined etiology (negative standard evaluation). Patients were significantly younger (64.91 ± 14.44 vs. 71.42 ± 12.93) and had lower prevalence of risk factors such as hypertension (48.5% vs. 65.4%) and diabetes (19.4% vs. 33.1%) than patients in ischemic stroke of undetermined etiology (incomplete standard evaluation) subgroup. University hospital patients had better clinical outcomes in terms of mortality and degree of disability during one-year follow-up.

The high clinical burden of ischemic stroke of undetermined etiology especially in nonuniversity hospitals shows the rational for promoting ischemic stroke evaluation and providing specialized stroke centers for these hospitals in a developing country like Iran.