People with irregular heartbeats also known as atrial fibrillation run a higher risk of stroke than those with normal heart rhythm because the irregular beating causes blood to pool, which can lead to a clot that breaks off and travels to the brain. A new test to monitor people for irregular heartbeats identifies problems missed by standard tests, find researchers.
Investigators evaluated about 150 patients who had just suffered a stroke or mini-stroke. All were tested with standard EKGs. The standard test identified 10 patients with atrial fibrillation. The remaining patients underwent the Holter monitoring test, which revealed another seven patients with atrial fibrillation. Patients with normal EKGs and Holters were then tested with the new method, which involves having the patient wear a device called an event-loop recorder (ELR) for seven days to monitor the heartbeat.
The new device identified another five patients with atrial fibrillation.Since treatment with anti-clotting drugs can significantly reduce the risk of another stroke in people with irregular heartbeat, identifying a greater number of people with the condition is paramount to improving stroke care, say researchers.
Thus researchers say if the ELR test had not been done, these patients could not have been treated and would have remained at high risk for another stroke.