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D-dimer levels in plasma, a degradation product of fibrin, have been shown to correlate with the severity of ischemic stroke. In order to investigate the outcome of patients with elevated D-dimer we have carried out a follow-up study of patients of 65 years of age and younger with acute ischemic stroke or transient ischemic attacks (TIA) admitted to our stroke unit from 1991 to 1992. Twenty-two of the 57 patients had elevated D-dimer levels in the plasma. High levels were associated with cardioembolic stroke. On follow-up after a mean of 12 years, 15 patients had died and six patients had suffered another stroke or TIA (three of whom were dead). Ten patients had suffered other cardiovascular events and seven of them were dead. We concluded that high levels of D-dimer in acute ischemic stroke patients on admission were associated with cardioembolic stroke and might have prognostic value for the development of further cardio- or cerebrovascular events. Advanced age was found to be an independent risk factor.
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