Severity and Etiology of Incident Stroke in Patients Screened for Atrial Fibrillation vs Usual Care and the Impact of Prior Stroke: A Post Hoc Analysis of the LOOP Randomized Clinical Trial

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review


  • Fulltext

    Final published version, 445 KB, PDF document

Importance: Atrial fibrillation (AF) screening trials have failed to demonstrate a significant reduction in stroke risk. The impact on stroke severity and the importance of prior strokes are unknown. Objective: To assess stroke characteristics in patients undergoing implantable loop recorder (ILR) screening for AF vs usual care and assess the importance of prior stroke. Design, Setting, and Participants: This was a post hoc analysis of the Atrial Fibrillation Detected by Continuous Electrocardiogram Monitoring Using Implantable Loop Recorder to Prevent Stroke in High-Risk Individuals (LOOP) randomized clinical trial. Persons 70 years or older without known AF but diagnosed with 1 or more of the following, hypertension, diabetes, heart failure, or prior stroke, were screened for inclusion. Four sites in Denmark recruited participants by letter between January 31, 2014, and May 17, 2016. The median (IQR) follow-up period was 65 (59-70) months. Data were analyzed from April 1 to May 31, 2022. Interventions: ILR screening for AF and anticoagulation initiation if AF duration of 6 minutes or longer was detected (ILR group) vs usual care (control group). Main Outcomes and Measures: Adjudicated stroke, classified according to the modified Rankin Scale (mRS) using a score of 3 or more as a cutoff for severe (disabling or lethal) stroke, and according to the Trial of Org 10172 in Acute Stroke Treatment (TOAST) classification for ischemic strokes. Results: A total of 6205 individuals were screened for inclusion, and 6004 were randomized and included in the analysis; 4503 participants (75%; mean [SD] age, 74.7 [4.1] years; 2375 male [52.7%]) were assigned to the control group and 1501 participants (25%; mean [SD] age, 74.7 [4.1] years; 792 male [52.8%]) were assigned to the ILR group. A total of 794 of 4503 participants (17.6%) in the control group had a history of prior stroke compared with 262 of 1501 participants (17.5%) in the ILR group. During follow-up, AF was diagnosed in 1027 participants (control group, 550 [12%] vs ILR group, 477 [32%]), and anticoagulation was initiated in 89% of these (910). A total of 315 participants (5.2%) had a stroke (control group, 249 [5.5%] vs ILR group, 66 [4.4%]), and the median (IQR) mRS score was 2 (1-3) with no difference across the groups. A total of 272 participants (4.5%) had ischemic stroke (control group, 217 [4.8%] vs ILR group, 55 [3.7%]), and 123 (2.0%) had severe stroke (control group, 100 [2.2%] vs ILR group, 23 [1.5%]), and the hazard ratios comparing the control and ILR groups were 0.76 (95% CI, 0.57-1.03; P =.07) and 0.69 (95% CI, 0.44-1.09; P =.11), respectively. For participants without prior stroke, the hazard ratios were 0.68 (95% CI, 0.48-0.97; P =.04) and 0.54 (95% CI, 0.30-0.97; P =.04), respectively. Conclusions and Relevance: This post hoc analysis of the LOOP randomized clinical trial found that ILR screening for AF did not result in a significant decrease in ischemic or severe strokes compared with usual care. Exploratory subgroup analyses indicated a possible reduction of these outcomes among participants without prior stroke. Trial Registration: Identifier: NCT02036450.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJAMA Neurology
Issue number10
Pages (from-to)997-1004
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 American Medical Association. All rights reserved.

ID: 319792019