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Usefulness of Ambulatory 7-Day ECG Monitoring for the Detection of Atrial Fibrillation and Flutter After Acute Stroke and Transient Ischemic Attack

By Denis Jabaudon, MD, PhD; Juan Sztajzel, MD; Katia Sievert; Theodor Landis, MD; Roman Sztajzel, MD
December 19, 2019

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Background and Purpose

Although atrial fibrillation is the most frequent cause of cardioembolic stroke, this arrhythmia remains under diagnosed, as it is often asymptomatic or intermittent and, thus, may not be detected on standard 12-lead ECG or even 24-hour ECG recording (Holter). In this study, we hypothesized that 7-day ambulatory ECG monitoring using an event-loop recording (ELR) device would detect otherwise occult episodes atrial fibrillation and flutter (AF) after acute stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA).


One hundred forty-nine consecutive patients admitted to our neurology department with an acute stroke or TIA were systematically screened for emboligenic arrhythmias using standard ECG. In the absence of AF on standard ECG, patients underwent 24-hour ECG recording (Holter), which was followed by a 7-day ambulatory ECG monitoring (ELR) in patients with a normal Holter. Patients with previously documented persistent AF, with primary hemorrhagic stroke, or with acute large vessel dissection were not included in the study.


AF was detected in 22 patients. Standard ECG identified AF in 2.7% of the cases at admission (4/149 patients) and in 4.1% of remaining patients within 5 days (6/145). Holter disclosed AF in 5% of patients with a normal standard ECG (7/139 patients), whereas ELR detected AF in 5.7% of patients with a normal standard ECG and normal Holter (5/88 patients).


Following acute stroke or TIA, ELR identified patients with AF, which remained undetected with standard ECG and with Holter. ELR should, therefore, be considered in every patient in whom a cardioembolic mechanism is suspected. (Stroke. 2004;35:1647-1651.)

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