The frequency of cardioembolic stroke is expected to rise as the general population ages. Much of the increase may be attributed to atrial fibrillation, the most common cause of cardioembolic stroke and one that plays a substantial role in aging adults. Other sources of cardioembolic stroke may include ventricular thrombus from myocardial infarction, heart failure, structural heart defects such as patent foramen ovale (PFO), atrial septal aneurysm, proximal aortic atheroma, valvular heart disease, and endocarditis. Diagnostic studies, such as neuroimaging, ECG, and echocardiography, are helpful in uncovering cardioembolic sources of stroke. Medical therapy is predicated on the underlying mechanism. For example, warfarin may be indicated in certain patients who have atrial fibrillation, atrial, or ventricular thrombi, and PFO with atrial septal aneurysm and cryptogenic stroke in select young patients to prevent stroke. Newer diagnostic technologies, including multidetector CT and cardiac MRI, may be useful to diagnose cardiac causes of stroke when transesophageal echocardiography is indeterminate or cryptogenic stroke is present.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology