Continuous Stroke Unit Electrocardiographic Monitoring Versus 24-Hour Holter Electrocardiography for Detection of Paroxysmal Atrial Fibrillation After Stroke
Background and Purpose—Cardioembolism in paroxysmal atrial fibrillation (pxAF) is a frequent cause of ischemic stroke. Sensitive detection of pxAF after stroke is crucial for adequate secondary stroke prevention; the optimal diagnostic modality to detect pxAF on stroke units is unknown. We compared 24-hour Holter electrocardiography (ECG) with continuous stroke unit ECG monitoring (CEM) for pxAF detection.
Methods—Patients with acute ischemic stroke or transient ischemic attack were prospectively enrolled. After a 12-channel ECG on admission, all patients received 24-hour Holter ECG and CEM. Additionally, ECG monitoring data underwent automated analysis using dedicated software to identify pxAF. Patients with a history of atrial fibrillation or with atrial fibrillation on the admission ECG were excluded.
Results—Four hundred ninety-six patients (median age, 69 years; 61.5% male) fulfilled all inclusion criteria (ischemic stroke: 80.4%; transient ischemic attack: 19.6%). Median stroke unit stay lasted 88.8 hours (interquartile range, 65.0–122.0). ECG data for automated CEM analysis were available for a median time of 64.0 hours (43.0–89.8). Paroxysmal AF was documented in 41 of 496 patients (8.3%). Of these, Holter detected pxAF in 34.1%; CEM in 65.9%; and automated CEM in 92.7%. CEM and automated CEM detected significantly more patients with pxAF than Holter (P<0.001), and automated CEM detected more patients than CEM (P<0.001).
Conclusions—Automated analysis of CEM improves pxAF detection in patients with stroke on stroke units compared with 24-hour Holter ECG. The comparative usefulness of prolonged or repetitive Holter ECG recordings requires further evaluation.
- Received February 21, 2012.
- Revision received May 27, 2012.
- Accepted June 4, 2012.
- © 2012 American Heart Association, Inc.