UMass Chan Medical School Faculty Publications


Clinical impact of leukoaraiosis burden and chronological age on neurological deficit recovery and 90-day outcome after minor ischemic stroke

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Neurology

Publication Date


Document Type



Nervous System Diseases | Neurology


BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Ischemic stroke remains a leading cause of disability, particularly among the elderly, but this association has not been consistently noted among patients with minor stroke. We sought to determine the association of chronological age and leukoaraiosis, which is considered a marker of biological age, with the degree of neurological deficit recovery and 90-day disability after minor ischemic stroke.

METHODS: We retrospectively analyzed 185 patients with a minor ischemic stroke (National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale [NIHSS] score < /=5). Leukoaraiosis severity was graded according to the van Swieten scale. NIHSS was assessed at baseline, discharge, and 90-days. Multivariable linear and ordinal logistic regression analyses were constructed to identify independent predictors of the degree of NIHSS-improvement (DeltaNIHSS) and 90-day outcome as assessed by the modified Rankin Scale (mRS).

RESULTS: Patients with severe leukoaraiosis had attenuated DeltaNIHSS at 90days as compared to patients with none-to-mild leukoaraiosis (p=0.028). After adjustment, leukoaraiosis severity (p < 0.001) but not chronological age (p=0.771) was independently associated with the DeltaNIHSS by day 90. Severe leukoaraiosis (p=0.003, OR 3.1, 95%-CI 1.5-6.4), older age (p=0.001, OR 1.0 95%-CI 1.0-1.1), and admission NIHSS (p < 0.001, OR 1.5, 95%-CI 1.2-1.8) were independent predictors of the 90-day mRS.

CONCLUSION: Leukoaraiosis is a more sensitive predictor for neurological deficit recovery after ischemic stroke than chronological age. Further study is required to establish the specific contribution of leukoaraiosis to functional outcome after minor ischemic stroke beyond its impact on recovery mechanisms.


Brain frailty, Ischemic stroke, Leukoaraiosis, Old age, Outcome, Recovery, Small vessel disease

DOI of Published Version



J Neurol Sci. 2015 Dec 15;359(1-2):418-23. doi: 10.1016/j.jns.2015.10.005. Epub 2015 Oct 8. Link to article on publisher's site


Co-author Nils Henninger is a doctoral student in the Millennium PhD Program (MPP) in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (GSBS) at UMass Medical School.

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of the neurological sciences

PubMed ID