Acute Isolated Dysarthria Is Associated with a High Risk of Stroke Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • BACKGROUND: Isolated dysarthria is an uncommon presentation of transient ischemic attack (TIA)/minor stroke and has a broad differential diagnosis. There is little information in the literature about how often this presentation is confirmed to be a TIA/stroke, and therefore there is debate about the risk of subsequent vascular events. Given the uncertain prognosis, it is unclear how to best manage patients presenting to the emergency department (ED) with isolated dysarthria. The objective of this study was to prospectively identify and follow a cohort of patients presenting to EDs with isolated dysarthria in order to explore their natural history and risk of recurrent cerebrovascular events. Specifically, we sought to determine early outcomes of individuals with this nonspecific and atypical presentation in order to appropriately expedite their management. METHODS: Patients with isolated dysarthria having presented to 8 Canadian EDs between October 2006 and April 2009 were analyzed as part of a prospective multicenter cohort study of patients with acute neurological symptoms as assessed by emergency physicians. The study inclusion criteria were age ≥18 years, a normal level of consciousness, and a symptom onset <1 week prior to presentation without an established nonvascular etiology. The primary outcome was a subsequent stroke within 90 days of the index visit. The secondary outcomes were the rate of TIA, myocardial infarction, and death. Isolated dysarthria was defined as slurring with imprecise articulation but without evidence of language dysfunction. The overall rate of stroke in this cohort was compared with that predicted by the median ABCD2 score for this group. RESULTS: Between 2006 and 2009, 1,528 patients were enrolled and had a 90-day follow-up. Of these, 43 patients presented with isolated acute-onset dysarthria (2.8%). Recurrent stroke occurred in 6/43 (14.0%) within 90 days of enrollment. The predicted maximal 90-day stroke rate was 9.8% (based on a median ABCD2 score of 5 for the isolated dysarthria cohort). After adjusting for covariates, isolated dysarthria independently predicted stroke within 90 days (aOR: 3.96; 95% CI: 1.3-11.9; p = 0.014). CONCLUSIONS: The isolated dysarthria cohort carried a recurrent stroke risk comparable to that predicted by the median ABCD2 scores. Although isolated dysarthria is a nonspecific and uncommon clinical presentation of TIA, these findings support the need to view it first and foremost as a vascular presentation until proven otherwise and to manage such patients as if they were at high risk of stroke in accordance with established high-risk TIA guidelines.

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publication date

  • May 2014