Continuous electrocardiography for detecting atrial fibrillation beyond 1 year after stroke in primary care

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Background and purpose The diagnostic benefit of using continuous ECG (cECG) for poststroke atrial fibrillation (AF) screening in a primary care setting is unclear. We aimed to assess the diagnostic yield from screening patients who previously had a stroke with a 7-day Holter monitor. Methods Patients older than 49 years, naive to AF, with an ischaemic stroke over 1 year before enrolment were included. In a primary care setting, all patients were screened for AF using pulse palpation, 12-lead ECG and 7-day Holter monitoring. Further, NT-proBNP was determined at baseline. Results 7-day Holter monitoring uncovered AF in 17 of 366 patients (4.6% (95% CI 2.7 to 7.3)). The number needed to screen was 22 patients (14-37). 12-lead ECG uncovered AF in 3 patients (0.82% (95% CI 0.17 to 2.4)), and 122 patients had irregular pulse during pulse palpation (33.5% (95% CI 28.7 to 38.2)). When using 7-day Holter monitoring as reference standard, the sensitivity of pulse palpation and 12-lead ECG was 47% (95% CI 23% to 72%) and 18% (95% CI 4% to 43%). High levels (≥400 pg/mL) of NT-proBNP versus low levels (≤200 pg/mL) were not associated with AF in the univariate analysis nor when adjusted for age (OR 2.4 (95% CI 0.5 to 8.4) and 1.6 (95% CI 0.3 to 6.0)). Conclusions A relevant proportion of patients with stroke more than 1 year before inclusion were diagnosed with AF through 7-day Holter monitoring. Given the low sensitivities of pulse palpation and 12-lead ECG, additional cECG may be considered during poststroke primary care follow-up.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number8
Pages (from-to)635-641
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 2021

    Research areas

  • atrial fibrillation, electrocardiography, primary care, stroke

ID: 259882247