Detection of occult atrial fibrillation with 24-hour ECG after cryptogenic acute stroke or transient ischaemic attack: A retrospective cross-sectional study in a primary care database in Israel

Ori Liran*, Tamar Banon, Alon Grossman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Ischaemic stroke or cerebrovascular accident (CVA) due to occult atrial fibrillation (AF) may cause severe morbidity and mortality. Diagnosing occult AF can be challenging and there is no consensus regarding the optimal duration of screening. A 24-hour Holter electrocardiogram (ECG) is frequently employed to detect occult AF following ischaemic CVA. Objectives: Demonstration of occult AF detection rate using a 24-hour Holter ECG in a primary care setting with descriptive analyses of independent variables to compare AF detected and non-detected patients. Methods: This retrospective cross-sectional study utilised primary care data and included patients 50 years and older with a new CVA or transient ischaemic attack (TIA) diagnosis followed by a 24-hour Holter examination within 6 months, between 01 January 2013 and 01 June 2019. The analyses included descriptive statistics comparing demographics and clinical characteristics in patients who had AF or Atrial Flutter (AFL) detection to those who did not. Results: Out of 5015 eligible patients, 66 (1.3%) were diagnosed with AF/AFL, with a number needed to screen of 88.5. Compared with those without AF/AFL detection, those diagnosed were older (75.42 ± 7.89 vs. 69.89 ± 9.88, p = 0.050), had a higher prevalence of hypertension (80.3% vs. 66.8%, p = 0.021) and chronic kidney disease (CKD) (71.2% vs. 44.2%, p < 0.001). Conclusion: 24-hour Holter has a low AF/AFL detection rate. Older persons and those with hypertension or CKD are more likely to be detected with AF/AFL using this method.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)152-157
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Journal of General Practice
Volume27
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • 24-hour Holter ECG
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • ischaemic stroke
  • primary care
  • transient ischaemic attack

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