Clinical Heart Failure Patients with Ischemic Stroke Have a High Incidence (>60%) of Atrial Fibrillation or Flutter Whether Systolic Function Is Preserved or Depressed
World Journal of Cardiovascular Diseases
Clinical congestive heart failure (CHF) is a major risk factor for strokes. Patients with CHF commonly have atrial fibrillation or flutter (AF), which is frequently associated with, may be a marker for, and may be the mechanism of, ischemic strokes. To determine whether stroke patients with CHF have a high incidence of AF (that may be intermittent and not diagnosed), we reviewed all the 12 lead ECGs in a fourteen year institutional ECG data base and the clinical records and the available
... diograms of 985 patients who had an ischemic stroke over a 3-year period. We found that 31.3% of the stroke patients had evidence of AF. Clinical congestive heart failure was present in 168 stroke patients; 61.9% of these stroke patients with CHF had evidence of AF. In the total stroke population, patients with other risk factors for stroke (hypertension, advanced age, diabetes, coronary artery disease) had an increased incidence of AF; but among stroke patients with CHF, only advanced age (≥75 years) in addition to CHF increased the incidence of AF. To determine whether only the CHF stroke pts with systolic dysfunction had a high incidence of AF, we compared the incidence of AF in the 41.5% of the CHF patients with a depressed ejection fraction with the AF incidence in the 58.5% of CHF stroke patients with a normal ejection fraction (≥50%). The incidence of AF was the same (63.4% vs. 60.2%, p = 0.741) whether the ejection fraction was depressed or normal. These findings suggest that AF is common in patients with CHF who have strokes whether the ejection fraction is normal or depressed. CHF patients who have strokes and who are in sinus rhythm should be meticulously investigated for intermittent AF, so anticoagulation can be administered to prevent a further stroke.