Detection of paroxysmal atrial fibrillation in 994 patients with a cerebrovascular event by intermittent 21-day ECG-monitoring and 7-day continuous Holter-recording
Background: The detection of paroxysmal atrial fibrillation (AF) is of importance in stroke care. The method used is continuous electrocardiogram (ECG)-monitoring or multiple short ECG-recordings during an extended period. Their relative efficiency is a matter of discussion. In a retrospective cohort study on 994 patients with an ischemic stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA), we have compared continuous 7-day monitoring to intermittent recording 60 sec three times daily with a handheld device during 3 weeks. We related the result to subsequent occurrence of AF as detected in 12-lead ECG recordings.
Methods: The patients were identified in the local database of cardiovascular investigations. Their clinical profile and vital status during the follow-up were obtained from the Swedish Stroke Register and the Swedish general population registry. For comparison, we used an age- and sex-matched population with no known cerebrovascular event and a population with a cerebrovascular event that was not screened.
Results: AF was detected in 7.1% by continuous screening and in 5.1% by intermittent screening (P = 0.3). During follow-up of 32 months, AF in 12-lead ECG was found in 7.0%. In the subgroup with positive screening, 46.3% had AF compared with 6.7% in the subgroup with negative screening (P < 0.0001).
Conclusions: The two screening approaches had a similar yield of arrhythmia, in spite of the group with intermittent monitoring having a more favorable clinical profile. A positive screening was highly predictive of AF in ECG during the follow-up.
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