Prediction of underlying atrial fibrillation in patients with a cryptogenic stroke: results from the NOR-FIB Study

J Neurol. 2023 Aug;270(8):4049-4059. doi: 10.1007/s00415-023-11680-8. Epub 2023 May 10.


Background: Atrial fibrillation (AF) detection and treatment are key elements to reduce recurrence risk in cryptogenic stroke (CS) with underlying arrhythmia. The purpose of the present study was to assess the predictors of AF in CS and the utility of existing AF-predicting scores in The Nordic Atrial Fibrillation and Stroke (NOR-FIB) Study.

Method: The NOR-FIB study was an international prospective observational multicenter study designed to detect and quantify AF in CS and cryptogenic transient ischaemic attack (TIA) patients monitored by the insertable cardiac monitor (ICM), and to identify AF-predicting biomarkers. The utility of the following AF-predicting scores was tested: AS5F, Brown ESUS-AF, CHA2DS2-VASc, CHASE-LESS, HATCH, HAVOC, STAF and SURF.

Results: In univariate analyses increasing age, hypertension, left ventricle hypertrophy, dyslipidaemia, antiarrhythmic drugs usage, valvular heart disease, and neuroimaging findings of stroke due to intracranial vessel occlusions and previous ischemic lesions were associated with a higher likelihood of detected AF. In multivariate analysis, age was the only independent predictor of AF. All the AF-predicting scores showed significantly higher score levels for AF than non-AF patients. The STAF and the SURF scores provided the highest sensitivity and negative predictive values, while the AS5F and SURF reached an area under the receiver operating curve (AUC) > 0.7.

Conclusion: Clinical risk scores may guide a personalized evaluation approach in CS patients. Increasing awareness of the usage of available AF-predicting scores may optimize the arrhythmia detection pathway in stroke units.

Keywords: Atrial fibrillation; Biomarkers; Cryptogenic stroke; ICM; Prediction scores; Predictors.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Atrial Fibrillation* / complications
  • Atrial Fibrillation* / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Ischemic Attack, Transient* / complications
  • Ischemic Attack, Transient* / diagnosis
  • Ischemic Stroke* / complications
  • Risk Factors
  • Stroke* / diagnosis
  • Stroke* / diagnostic imaging