Introduction: Stroke is one of the leading causes of mortality and morbidity globally. Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common sustained cardiac arrhythmia. It is set to reach epidemic proportions. AF is associated with a five-fold increase in risk of stroke. Strokes caused by AF more often are fatal or result in severe disability. Even though the incidence of stroke has been significantly reduced by oral anticoagulation, AF is thought to account for a significant proportion of cryptogenic strokes where no etiology is identified.
Areas covered: This article reviews the literature related to AF and stroke, pathophysiological insights, diagnosis of AF in stroke patients, and its management (Graphical Abstract).
Expert opinion: The pathophysiology of thrombogenesis that links AF and stroke is not well understood and is an area of active research to identify new therapeutic targets to prevent AF and stroke. As the nature of AF and stroke is multifaceted, an integrated care approach to managing AF and stroke is increasingly essential.
Keywords: atrial fibrillation; cryptogenic stroke; embolic stroke; integrated care approach; oral anticoagulation; rhythm control; stroke prevention.