Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour
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Thesis defense Mayte van Alebeek (Donders series 395)

18 October 2019

Promotor: prof. dr. F-E. de Leeuw, co-promotor:  dr. A. Tuladhar

Risk factors and prognosis of stroke in young adults: What to expect?

Ischemic stroke is the second leading cause of mortality worldwide and is also one of the most pronounced causes of disability. Unfortunately, the incidence of stroke at a young age is increasing. Stroke at a young age has a major impact on many aspects of daily life, such as work and social life, but also involves uncertainties of suffering recurrent cardiovascular disease, or fear of potential risks of future pregnancies.

The studies in this thesis investigated the risk factors and long-term prognosis of stroke at a young age (18-50 years), with a special focus on pregnancy related complications. We showed that patients who are affected by a stroke at a young age have a lifelong high risk of developing recurrent vascular events, especially in those with traditional cardiovascular risk factors. Thereby, we found that women after stroke more frequently suffered from pregnancy complications, such as gestational hypertension, HELLP syndrome and premature birth. On the other hand, the risk of having a recurrent stroke during pregnancy was low.
The information in this thesis may be helpful to counsel patients on the course of their disease.
For future studies it is important to focus on all possible mechanisms of stroke at a young age, as this may ultimately increase the possibility of more targeted treatment based on the underlying cause and its associated prognosis.