The Evolution and Application of Cardiac Monitoring for Occult Atrial Fibrillation in Cryptogenic Stroke and TIA

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Current treatment options in neurology


OPINION STATEMENT: The evaluation of the stroke and transient ischemic attack (TIA) patient has been historically predominated by the initial evaluation in the hospital setting. As the etiology of stroke has eluded us in approximately one third of all acute events, the medical community has been eager to seek the answer to this mystery. In recent years, we have seen an explosion of innovations and trends allowing for a more detailed post stroke assessment strategy aimed at the identification of occult atrial fibrillation as the etiologic cause for the cryptogenic event. This has been achieved through the evolution and aggressive application and study of prolonged and advanced cardiac monitoring. This review is aimed to clarify and elucidate the standard and novel cardiac monitoring methods that have become available for use by the medical community and expected in the higher level care of cryptogenic stroke and TIA patients. These cardiac monitoring methods and devices are as heterogeneous as our patient population and have their own advantages and disadvantages. Many factors may be taken into consideration in choosing the appropriate cardiac monitoring method and are highlighted for consideration in this review. With a judicious approach to investigating the cryptogenic stroke population, and applying a wealth of novel treatment options, we may move forward into a new era of stroke prevention.

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