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Study Suggests Need for More Aggressive Outpatient Monitoring of Patients' Hearts When Cause of Stroke is Unclear
Date:11/19/2008

PITTSBURGH, Nov. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- In nearly one third of all people who suffer from a stroke, the underlying cause of the injury is not readily evident to doctors. Atrial fibrillation (AF), or an irregular heartbeat, is believed to be a significant factor in many of these cases.

Stroke researchers at Allegheny General Hospital (AGH) in Pittsburgh today are reporting in the journal Neurology (http://www.neurology.org/cgi/content/abstract/71/21/1696) that a new diagnostic approach that extends the monitoring of patients' hearts after hospital discharge greatly improved their ability to detect AF and treat it appropriately.

Led by Ashis Tayal, M.D., a stroke neurologist and medical director of AGH's Comprehensive Stroke Center, the AGH team explored the use of mobile outpatient cardiac telemetry over a period of 2-3 weeks to monitor patients who have experienced a stroke or a transient ischemic attack (TIA) of unknown cause.

Atrial Fibrillation was diagnosed in 23% of the study participants where conventional diagnostic protocols had failed.

"Stroke is an extremely challenging disease to treat and prevent when we know the cause or an individual's specific risk factors. That so many patients actually leave the hospital without a precise reason for their injury is a very frustrating scenario for physicians and one that has potentially devastating implications for patients and their families," Dr. Tayal said.

The nation's third leading cause of death, stroke is the number one cause of serious, long-term disability.

"If we can indeed identify AF more promptly in these cases, our ability to treat patients and perhaps prevent a second, more catastrophic injury would be significantly enhanced," he said.

Atrial fibrillation is the most common heart rhythm abnormality tha
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SOURCE Allegheny General Hospital
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