Does Hemispheric Lateralization Influence Functional and Cardiovascular Outcomes After Stroke?: An Analysis of Placebo-Treated Patients From Prospective Acute Stroke Trials

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Background and Purpose—

The influence of stroke lateralization on functional and cardiovascular outcome after stroke is not well established. We evaluated the influence of hemispheric lateralization among patients enrolled in prospective acute stroke trials.


We obtained data from the VISTA database for acute stroke trials which reported lateralization. Baseline data, cardiac adverse events, and 90-day outcomes were compared between right and left hemisphere stroke patients. A “hemisphere unbiased” subscore of the NIHSS which omitted items strongly associated with lateralized cognitive deficits was also compared for trials which reported individual NIHSS item scores. A multivariable analysis of outcome predictors was performed.


Three acute stroke trials met the prespecified inclusion criteria. 1644 placebo-treated patients with documented hemispheric lateralization were included in the analysis. Baseline NIHSS was higher for left hemisphere patients (mean 16.2, versus 12.8 right, P<0.001); there was no difference in the “hemisphere unbiased” NIHSS subscore (10.88 left, 11.08 right, n=687, P=0.49). There was no difference between hemispheres in 90-day modified Rankin Score (3.43 left, 3.29 right, P=0.13), mortality (22.1% left, 19.5% right, P=0.20), or cardiac adverse events (P=0.71). Hemispheric lateralization was not an independent predictor of outcome in the multivariable analysis after controlling for the hemispheric bias intrinsic to the NIHSS.


There is no difference in functional outcome between patients with right or left hemisphere stroke. Use of the baseline NIHSS score to predict stroke outcome must take hemispheric lateralization into account. Stroke lateralization is not an important predictor of cardiac adverse events or 90-day mortality.

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