Serious cardiac arrhythmias after stroke: incidence, time course, and predictors—a systematic, prospective analysis

Bernd Kallmünzer, Lorenz Breuer, Nicolas Kahl, Tobias Bobinger, Dorette Raaz-Schrauder, Hagen Bernhard Huttner, Stefan Schwab, Martin Köhrmann
Stroke; a Journal of Cerebral Circulation 2012, 43 (11): 2892-7

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Patients with acute cerebrovascular events are susceptible to serious cardiac arrhythmias, but data on the time course and the determinants of their onset are scarce.

METHODS: The prospective Stroke-Arrhythmia-Monitoring-Database (SAMBA) assessed cardiac arrhythmias with need for urgent evaluation and treatment in 501 acute neurovascular patients during the first 72 hours after admission to a monitored stroke unit. Arrhythmias were systematically detected by structured processing of telemetric data. Time of arrhythmia onset and predisposing factors were investigated.

RESULTS: Significant cardiac arrhythmias occurred in 25.1% of all patients. Incidence was highest during the first 24 hours after admission. Serious arrhythmic tachycardia (ventricular or supraventricular>130 beats/min) was more frequent than bradycardic arrhythmia (sinus-node dysfunction, bradyarrhythmia, or atrioventricular block °II and °III). Arrhythmias were independently associated with higher age and severer neurological deficits as measured by the National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale on admission.

CONCLUSIONS: The risk for significant cardiac arrhythmia after an acute cerebrovascular event is highest during the first 24 hours of care and declines with time during the first 3 days. Along with established vascular risk factors, the National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale may be considered for a stratified allocation of monitoring capabilities.

CLINICAL TRIAL REGISTRATION: URL: Unique identifier: NCT01177748.

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