A New Heart Monitor can Help Prevent a Stroke


A New Heart Monitor Can Help Prevent Stroke

Uncovering the Cause of Stroke

After you have a stroke, it is of critical importance that your doctors determine why you had a stroke. Many of the causes of stroke can be identified by diagnostic medical tests and then they can be clinically managed to minimize the risk of another stroke. Often, a stroke or a TIA is a warning sign that there is a serious, yet hidden, health problem that needs to be promptly taken care of.  There are however, some strokes that remain unexplained or cryptogenic, even after a thorough, extensive diagnostic evaluation. A cryptogenic stroke means that the cause of the stroke is never found. The problem with cryptogenic strokes is that if a cause is not found- it is particularly challenging to prevent another stroke.

The Past and Future of Cryptogenic Stroke

Having a stroke is undoubtedly stressful enough as it is. If you are one of the 20-30% of stroke survivors who have an unexplained, cryptogenic stroke, the fact that you don't have solid answers can add to that stress. Additionally, your doctors can more effectively prevent another stroke once a cause is determined. It is especially important to prevent additional strokes. Stroke survivors who continue to experience more strokes end up having a worse overall outcome that includes life-changing problems such as dementia and severely restrictive handicaps. That is why cryptogenic strokes are so unsettling. The future of cryptogenic stroke, however, looks promising, with the progress of scientific research and new tools can help us unravel the mysteries of cryptogenic stroke.

A New Kind of Heart Monitor

Recently, at the American Stroke Association’s 2015 International Stroke Conference in Nashville, Tennessee a few weeks ago, the results of research on a new device that can detect the cause of some cryptogenic strokes was announced. An implantable device called the Reveal LINQ Insertable Cardiac Monitor (ICM) was able to detect an irregular heartbeat called atrial fibrillation in some of the patients who had been diagnosed with cryptogenic stroke. This development is particularly important because atrial fibrillation is one of the medical conditions that can be effectively treated to prevent recurrent strokes. Normally, an EKG (electrocardiogram), which is a test that detects heart rhythm, is used to identify atrial fibrillation. However, because the implantable device stays inside the patient’s body for a long period of time, it can pick up on atrial fibrillation that is not detected during a brief EKG.  The new research that was presented at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference in February 2015 evaluated 1247 cryptogenic stroke patients for an average of 182 days.

Atrial fibrillation was detected in 147 patients who would otherwise not have had a diagnosed cause of stroke. The Reveal LINQ Insertable Cardiac Monitor is made by a well established medical technology company called Medtronic, and has been approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration.)

Getting Answers to Your Questions About Stroke

When you have a stroke, you have many questions, such as- ‘will I ever get better?’ and  ‘will I have another stroke?’ and ‘what kind of medications do I need to take now?’ One of the most important questions you have is, ‘why did this happen to me?’ Fortunately, as stroke research continues to advance at a rapid pace, there are now more answers to your questions about your stroke than ever before. The solutions to the mysteries of cryptogenic stroke are constantly improving as technology, medicine and science work together to prevent stroke and to improve the lives of those who have already suffered from a stroke. Having a stroke does not have to spell doom and gloom- with the right tools and treatment, you can have a long future filled with an active, happy and healthy lifestyle.


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