Detection of atrial fibrillation in real world setting in patients with cryptogenic stroke and an implantable loop recorder

Pacing Clin Electrophysiol. 2023 Jul;46(7):788-795. doi: 10.1111/pace.14757. Epub 2023 Jun 15.


Introduction: Implantable loop recorders (ILR) are used to screen for atrial fibrillation (AF) in patients with cryptogenic stroke (CS). However, there is limited real-world data regarding the long-term rate of AF detection using ILR and management consequences in patients with CS. The objective is to assess the rate of AF detection in patients with CS in a real-world study over 36 months of follow-up and its consequences on stroke prevention.

Methods: This retrospective study included patients with an ILR placed for CS at Baylor College of Medicine and Baylor St. Luke's Medical Center between January 2014 and July 2021. The primary outcome was AF detection in patients with ILR. The secondary outcome was the rate of subsequent strokes after ILR placement in patients with or without diagnosed AF. The AF detection rate in our cohort was compared to the rate in CRYSTAL-AF Trial at 36-month follow-up. The impact of AF detection on clinical management was examined.

Results: We identified 225 patients. 51.1% were women and 38.2% African American. Among 85 patients with ILR labeled AF, 43 patients had true AF, and 42 had incorrectly labeled AF (48.3% false positive). The estimated AF detection rate at 36 months follow-up was 28.6% (95% CI, 26.6%-30.6%). 58.1% of patients with AF were initiated on oral anticoagulation, 80.0% of whom were started on a direct oral anticoagulant. 13.8% of patients had recurrent strokes after ILR implantation; 4 of whom were diagnosed with AF.

Conclusion: Compared to CRYSTAL-AF, the AF detection rate in our cohort is similar, but this cohort includes a higher proportion of female and African American patients. Most patients with recurrent strokes after ILR implant did not have AF during 36 months of monitoring.

Keywords: anticoagulation; atrial fibrillation; cryptogenic stroke; implantable loop recorder.

MeSH terms

  • Atrial Fibrillation*
  • Electrocardiography, Ambulatory
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ischemic Stroke* / complications
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Stroke* / complications
  • Stroke* / prevention & control