Sex differences in post-stroke aphasia rates are caused by age. A meta-analysis and database query

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Background: Studies have suggested that aphasia rates are different in men and women following stroke. One hypothesis says that men have more lateralized language function than women. Given unilateral stroke, this would lead to a prediction of men having higher aphasia rates than women. Another line of observations suggest that women are more severely affected by stroke, which could lead to a higher aphasia rate among women. An additional potential confounding variable could be age, given that women are typically older at the time of stroke. Methods & procedures: This study consists of two parts. First, a meta-analysis of the available reports of aphasia rates in the two sexes was conducted. A comprehensive literature search yielded 25 studies with sufficient information about both aphasia and gender. These studies included a total of 48,362 stroke patients for which aphasia rates were calculated. Second, data were extracted from an American health database (with 1,967,038 stroke patients), in order to include age and stroke severity into a regression analysis of sex differences in aphasia rates. Outcomes & results: Both analyses revealed significantly larger aphasia rates in women than in men (1.1-1.14 ratio). This speaks against the idea that men should be more lateralized in their language function. When age and stroke severity were included as covariates, sex failed to explain any aphasia rate sex difference above and beyond that which is explained by age differences at time of stroke.




Wallentin, M. (2018). Sex differences in post-stroke aphasia rates are caused by age. A meta-analysis and database query. PLoS ONE, 13(12).

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