Acute Ischemic Stroke (AIS) in the young is increasing in prevalence and the largest subtype within this cohort is cryptogenic. To curb this trend, new ways of defining cryptogenic stroke and associated risk factors are needed. We aimed to gain insights into the presence or absence of cardiovascular risk factors in cases of cryptogenic stroke. We conducted a retrospective cohort study of patients aged 18–49 who presented to an urban tertiary care center with AIS. We manually collected predefined demographic, clinical, laboratory and radiological variables. Clinical risk phenotypes were determined using these variables through multivariate analysis of patients with the small and large vessel disease subtypes (vascular phenotype) and cardioembolic subtype (cardiac phenotype). The resultant phenotype models were applied to cases deemed cryptogenic. Within the 449 patients who met criteria, patients with small and large vessel disease (vascular phenotype) had higher rates of hypertension, intracranial atherosclerosis, and diabetes mellitus, and higher admission glucose, HbA1c, admission blood pressure, and cholesterol compared to the patients with cardioembolic AIS. The cardioembolic subgroup (cardiac phenotype) had significantly higher rates of congestive heart failure (CHF), rheumatic heart disease, atrial fibrillation, clotting disorders, left ventricular hypertrophy, larger left atrial sizes, lower ejection fractions, and higher B-type natriuretic peptide and troponin levels. Adjusted multivariate analysis produced six variables independently associated with the vascular phenotype (age, male sex, hemoglobin A1c, ejection fraction (EF), low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, and family history of AIS) and five independently associated with the cardiac phenotype (age, female sex, decreased EF, CHF, and absence of intracranial atherosclerosis). Applying these models to cryptogenic stroke cases yielded that 51.5% fit the vascular phenotype and 3.1% fit the cardiac phenotype. In our cohort, half of young patients with cryptogenic stroke fit the risk factor phenotype of small and large vessel strokes.
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