Background and Purpose We aimed to establish the prevalence, characteristics, and outcomes of intracranial atherosclerosis (ICAS) in China by a large, prospective, multicenter study.
Methods We evaluated 2864 consecutive patients who experienced an acute cerebral ischemia <7 days after symptom onset in 22 Chinese hospitals. All patients underwent magnetic resonance angiography, with measurement of diameter of the main intracranial arteries. ICAS was defined as 50% diameter reduction on magnetic resonance angiography.
Results The prevalence of ICAS was 46.6% (1335 patients, including 261 patients with coexisting extracranial carotid stenosis). Patients with ICAS had more severe stroke at admission and stayed longer in hospitals compared with those without intracranial stenosis (median National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale score, 3 versus 5; median length of stay, 14 versus 16 days; both P<0.0001). After 12 months, recurrent stroke occurred in 3.27% of patients with no stenosis, in 3.82% for those with 50% to 69% stenosis, in 5.16% for those with 70% to 99% stenosis, and in 7.27% for those with total occlusion. Cox proportional hazards regression analyses showed that the degree of arterial stenosis, age, family history of stroke, history of cerebral ischemia or heart disease, complete circle of Willis, and National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale score at admission were independent predictors for recurrent stroke at 1 year. The highest rate of recurrence was observed in patients with occlusion with the presence of 3 additional risk factors.
Conclusions ICAS is the most common vascular lesion in patients with cerebrovascular disease in China. Recurrent stroke rate in our study was lower compared with those of previous clinical trials but remains unacceptably high in a subgroup of patients with severe stenosis.