Left atrial enlargement and stroke recurrence: the Northern Manhattan Stroke Study

Stroke. 2015 Jun;46(6):1488-93. doi: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.115.008711. Epub 2015 Apr 23.


Background and purpose: Although left atrial enlargement (LAE) increases incident stroke risk, the association with recurrent stroke is less clear. Our aim was to determine the association of LAE with recurrent stroke most likely related to embolism (cryptogenic and cardioembolic) and all ischemic stroke recurrences.

Methods: We followed 655 first ischemic stroke patients in the Northern Manhattan Stroke Study for ≤5 years. LA size from 2D echocardiography was categorized as normal LAE (52.7%), mild LAE (31.6%), and moderate-severe LAE (15.7%). We used Cox proportional hazard models to calculate the hazard ratios and 95% confidence intervals for the association of LA size and LAE with recurrent cryptogenic/cardioembolic and total recurrent ischemic stroke.

Results: LA size was available in 529 (81%) patients. Mean age at enrollment was 69±13 years; 45.8% were male, 54.0% Hispanic, and 18.5% had atrial fibrillation. Over a median of 4 years, there were 65 recurrent ischemic strokes (29 were cardioembolic or cryptogenic). In multivariable models adjusted for confounders, including atrial fibrillation and heart failure, moderate-severe LAE compared with normal LA size was associated with greater risk of recurrent cardioembolic/cryptogenic stroke (adjusted hazard ratio 2.83, 95% confidence interval 1.03-7.81), but not total ischemic stroke (adjusted hazard ratio 1.06, 95% confidence interval, 0.48-2.30). Mild LAE was not associated with recurrent stroke.

Conclusion: Moderate to severe LAE was an independent marker of recurrent cardioembolic or cryptogenic stroke in a multiethnic cohort of ischemic stroke patients. Further research is needed to determine whether anticoagulant use may reduce risk of recurrence in ischemic stroke patients with moderate to severe LAE.

Keywords: embolism.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Atrial Fibrillation* / complications
  • Atrial Fibrillation* / diagnostic imaging
  • Atrial Fibrillation* / physiopathology
  • Brain Ischemia / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain Ischemia / epidemiology
  • Brain Ischemia / etiology
  • Cardiomegaly* / complications
  • Cardiomegaly* / diagnostic imaging
  • Cardiomegaly* / epidemiology
  • Echocardiography*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Heart Atria / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Biological*
  • New York City / epidemiology
  • Recurrence
  • Stroke* / diagnostic imaging
  • Stroke* / epidemiology
  • Stroke* / etiology