The results of two new medical studies may mean significant changes for how patients are monitored and treated following a stroke, according to The New York Times.
More than a half-million Americans every year have an ischemic stroke, the most common form, and at least a quarter of these cases have no apparent underlying cause. Atrial fibrillation, a common irregularity of the heartbeat that often goes unrecognized, may be causing up to a third of these strokes of unknown origin.
The findings of these studies are likely to encourage doctors to look more aggressively for signs of atrial fibrillation and prescribe more powerful anticoagulant medications to prevent clotting that can lead to additional strokes in these patients where a mild blood thinner is not enough.
Some patients may also need their hearts monitored much longer to detect abnormal rhythms. One of the studies found that atrial fibrillation was diagnosed in five times as many patients who wore special heart monitors for 30 days compared with those who underwent conventional 24-hour testing.
“If more patients with atrial fibrillation can be detected, then more patients can receive appropriate stroke prevention therapy, and the hope is that more strokes, deaths, disability and dementia can be avoided,” said Dr. David Gladstone, as associate professor in the department of medicine at the University of Toronto. Read the full details here:
There is a strong correlation between many strokes and atrial fibrillation. If you or a loved one has A-fib, makes sure the doctor is taking precautions to prevent a possible stroke. Similarly, if you or a loved one has a stroke, make sure your doctor investigates whether you have atrial fibrillation.
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