Prevalence of embolic signals in acute coronary syndromes

Stroke. 2010 Feb;41(2):261-6. doi: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.109.566380. Epub 2009 Dec 31.


Background and purpose: The purpose of this study was to assess the prevalence of embolic signals (ES) in acute coronary syndromes (ACS) and their association with stroke.

Methods: From December 2004 to October 2006, 209 consecutive patients with ACS (without prosthetic heart valves or previous stroke) were studied within 72 hours of symptom onset. Patients underwent ES monitoring in both middle cerebral arteries by transcranial Doppler for 30 minutes. Median follow-up was 14 months after discharge.

Results: Patients were treated according to current European Society Cardiology guidelines. Specifically, 92% of patients received heparin(s), 100% aspirin, 92% clopidogrel, 67% intravenous glycoprotein IIb/IIIa inhibitors, 9% fibrinolysis, and 67% underwent angioplasty. ES were detected in 7 patients (prevalence 3.4%; 95% CI, 1.4 to 6.8). Except for a higher prevalence of ES in patients with unstable angina versus other ACS categories (8.5% versus 1.9%, P=0.047), none of the factors among baseline characteristics, clinical features, ACS treatment, and cardiac findings were associated with the presence of ES. During hospitalization, 3 patients without ES had cerebrovascular events (one stroke and 2 transient ischemic attacks), whereas no cerebrovascular events occurred in patients with ES.

Conclusions: The prevalence of ES among hospitalized patients with ACS is currently low, possibly because of improvement in ACS treatment. In this ACS sample, ES did not appear associated with short-term risk of cerebrovascular events.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Coronary Syndrome / drug therapy
  • Acute Coronary Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Acute Coronary Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Aged
  • Angina, Unstable / drug therapy
  • Angina, Unstable / epidemiology
  • Angina, Unstable / physiopathology
  • Angioplasty, Balloon, Coronary / statistics & numerical data
  • Anticoagulants / therapeutic use
  • Comorbidity
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intracranial Embolism / diagnostic imaging*
  • Intracranial Embolism / epidemiology*
  • Intracranial Embolism / prevention & control
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Middle Cerebral Artery / diagnostic imaging*
  • Middle Cerebral Artery / physiopathology
  • Platelet Aggregation Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Prevalence
  • Thrombolytic Therapy / statistics & numerical data
  • Ultrasonography, Doppler, Transcranial


  • Anticoagulants
  • Platelet Aggregation Inhibitors