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Study seeks link between cryptogenic stroke and atrial fibrillation

(RxWiki News) In many cases of cryptogenic stroke, or stroke of undetermined cause -- which accounts for about 25 percent of all strokes -- physicians believe undiagnosed atrial fibrillation (abnormal heart beat) may be to blame.

To better understand this possible correlation, researchers from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine are monitoring patients who have been diagnosed with cryptogenic stroke for intermittent atrial fibrillation. This is part of a study called CRYSTAL AF (Study of Continuous Cardiac Monitoring to Assess Atrial Fibrillation after Cryptogenic Stroke).

The researchers have so far enrolled 11 participants (out of a total of about 450 individuals from 55 centers) in the trial, four of whom are already monitored with an implanted cardiac monitor, which records any abnormal ECG activity. The patients will be followed-up at one month and every six months thereafter for a total of three years. A control group will receive standard medical treatment and follow-ups at the same intervals.

Richard Bernstein, MD, a neurologist at the Certified Primary Stroke Center at Northwestern Memorial and associate professor of neurology at Feinberg School of Medicine, said the trial may give researchers the opportunity to uncover the cause of more strokes.

Irregular heart rhythms in patients with atrial fibrillation predispose them to blood clots and thus strokes. Fifteen percent of all stroke cases are attributable to atrial fibrillation.

Review Date: 
February 8, 2011