Embolic Strokes of Undetermined Source in the Athens Stroke Registry
A Descriptive Analysis
Background and Purpose—A new clinical construct termed embolic stroke of undetermined source (ESUS) was recently introduced, but no such population has been described yet. Our aim is to provide a detailed descriptive analysis of an ESUS population derived from a large prospective ischemic stroke registry using the proposed diagnostic criteria.
Methods—The criteria proposed by the Cryptogenic Stroke/ESUS International Working Group were applied to the Athens Stroke Registry to identify all ESUS patients. ESUS was defined as a radiologically confirmed nonlacunar brain infarct in the absence of (a) extracranial or intracranial atherosclerosis causing ≥50% luminal stenosis in arteries supplying the ischemic area, (b) major-risk cardioembolic source, and (c) any other specific cause of stroke.
Results—Among 2735 patients admitted between 1992 and 2011, 275 (10.0%) were classified as ESUS. In the majority of ESUS (74.2%), symptoms were maximal at onset. ESUS were of moderate severity (median National Institute Health Stroke Scale score, 5). The most prevalent risk factor was arterial hypertension (64.7%), and 50.9% of patients were dyslipidemic. Among potential causes of the ESUS, covert atrial fibrillation (AF) was the most prevalent: in 30 (10.9%) patients, AF was diagnosed during hospitalization for stroke recurrence, whereas in 50 (18.2%) patients AF was detected after repeated ECG monitoring during follow-up. Also, covert AF was strongly suggested in 38 patients (13.8%) but never recorded.
Conclusions—About 10% of patients with first-ever ischemic stroke met criteria for ESUS; covert paroxysmal AF seems to be a frequent cause of ESUS.
- Received August 26, 2014.
- Revision received October 12, 2014.
- Accepted October 16, 2014.
- © 2014 American Heart Association, Inc.