Background: To study the characteristics of vascular aphasia in a cohort of patients with a first-ever stroke. Methods: All patients admitted to the Lausanne neurology department for a first-ever stroke between 1979 and 2004 were included. Neurological examination including language was performed on admission. Stroke risk factors, stroke origin and location, associated symptoms and Rankin scale scores were recorded for each patient. The influence of these factors on aphasia frequency and subtypes was analyzed using logistic regression models. Results: 1,541 (26%) of patients included in this study had aphasia. The more frequent clinical presentations were expressive-receptive aphasia (38%) and mainly expressive aphasia (37%), whereas mainly receptive aphasia was less frequently observed (25%). In ischemic stroke, the frequency of aphasia increased with age (55% of nonaphasic vs. 61% of aphasic patients were more than 65 years old), female sex (40% of women in the nonaphasia group vs. 44% in the aphasia group) and risk factors for cardioembolic origin (coronary heart disease 20 vs. 26% and atrial fibrillation 15 vs. 24%). Stroke aphasia was more likely associated with superficial middle cerebral artery (MCA) stroke and leads to relevant disability. Clinical subtypes depended on stroke location and associated symptoms. Exceptions to the classic clinical-topographic correlations were not rare (26%). Finally, significant differences were found for patients with crossed aphasia in terms of stroke origin and aphasia subtypes. Conclusions: Risk factors for stroke aphasia are age, cardioembolic origin and superficial MCA stroke. Exceptions to classic clinical-topographic correlations are not rare. Stroke aphasia is associated with relevant disability. Stroke location and associated symptoms strongly influence aphasia subtypes.

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