Avoid strokes due to better diagnosis of cardiac arrhythmias

The new simple, inexpensive and harmless "diagnostic concept detects heart rhythm disorders in stroke patients better than currently used procedures," according to the University of Göttingen. With its help, the atrial fibrillation can be detected at an early stage and significantly reduce the risk of stroke, the researchers report. The scientists presented their new diagnostic concept in the renowned journal "Lancet Neurology".

Better detection of atrial fibrillation prevented many strokes.(Photo: Sonja Calovini / fotolia.com

atrial fibrillation most common cause of stroke
According to the medical profession, atrial fibrillation is "one of the most common causes of strokes." It is practically considered a harbinger of stroke, which in turn often causes life-long limitations for those affectedThe cause of the connection between atrial fibrillation and strokes is the formation of blood clots in the heart during atrial fibrillation, which can be transported in the direction of the brain where it clogs the vessels and thus lead to a strokeAccording to UMG, every year about 280,000 people have a stroke, which is usually caused by a lack of blood supply to the brain( ischemic stroke). "As a result of the stroke, there is often a lifelong restriction in everyday life, many patients are permanently in need of care," said theMessage from the UMG

Nearly 400 stroke patients examined
In their investigations, the scientists went to Professor Rolf Wachter from the Department of Cardiology and Pulmonology of the UMG and Privatdozent Dr. med. Klaus Gröschel from the Department of Neurology at the University Medical Center Mainz asked to what extent stroke patients could benefit from an improved examination of cardiac arrhythmias. For this purpose, a total of 398 patients with fresh stroke were examined.

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    Long Term ECG with Significantly Better Outcomes
    The researchers provided "part of the subjects with a long-term ECG over ten days, a total of threeWas performed and evaluated in a specialized laboratory ", reports the UMG.The other patients received the current standard diagnostics. The results speak for themselves according to the researchers. For example, cardiac arrhythmias in the form of atrial fibrillation were detected three times more frequently in the group with long-term ECG diagnostics( 13.5 percent) than in the group with standard diagnostics( 4.5 percent).

    Atrial fibrillation is often overlooked
    According to Professor Wachter, atrial fibrillation is often not recognized because the arrhythmia only occurs for a few minutes. Therefore, the symptoms are easily overlooked in the current cardiovascular tests."However, if atrial fibrillation is detected in time, a stroke can be prevented as a result," says Prof. Wachter. According to the expert, a better detection of atrial fibrillation is probably "the most promising strategy to reduce the number of strokes."

    Possibilities for drug prevention
    Klaus Gröschel was already known from preliminary examinations that atrial fibrillation can be detected in every eighth stroke patient with an extended long-term ECG.This finding is important because drugs are available that can reduce the risk of a recurrence of stroke in the affected patients by about 70 percent, explains the neurologist Dr. med. Gröschel.

    New Procedure Provenly Prevents Stroke
    So far, according to the researchers, there was no evidence that their procedure actually found cases of atrial fibrillation that would normally not be detected."That's why we conducted a study that randomly gave patients either our extended long-term ECG or the standard procedure, which only took one to three days to record the rhythm," Dr. Mark Weber-Krüger, coordinator of the study at the UMG.This is the only way to prove that the new process is better. The result was quite convincing.

    Important step on the path to personalized medicine
    Data on recurrent strokes in the long-term ECG group were also positive. Here, patients developed about 40 percent fewer new strokes and stroke precursors( transient ischemic attacks), the researchers report. Now another larger study with 5,000 participants is planned to review the current results."We want to show that we not only find more atrial fibrillation, but also prevent strokes," emphasizes Prof. Wachter. With the current study, an important step towards personalized medicine has already been achieved, and improved diagnostics can be used to assign patients exactly the therapies they need.(fp)

  • Better detection of atrial fibrillation helps prevent strokes
    Cardiac arrhythmias in the form of atrial fibrillation are considered to be a major risk factor for the development of a stroke. A reliable early detection of corresponding cardiac arrhythmias could therefore also use the prevention of strokes. For this purpose, scientists from the University Medical Center Göttingen( UMG) together with colleagues from Mainz have developed a new method for a better diagnosis of atrial fibrillation.

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