Cryptogenic stroke (CS) and embolic stroke of unknown source (ESUS) represent a major challenge to healthcare systems worldwide. Atrial fibrillation (AF) is commonly found after CS or ESUS. Independent of the mechanism of the index CS or ESUS, detection of AF in these patients offers the opportunity to reduce the risk of stroke recurrence by prescribing an anticoagulant instead of aspirin. The detection of AF may be pursued with different monitoring strategies. Comparison of monitoring strategies should take into account that AF detection rates reported in published studies, and then pooled in meta-analyses, are not only a function of the monitoring strategy itself, but also depend on patient-related, device-related, and study design–related factors. Once AF is found, the decision to anticoagulate a patient should be made on the basis of AF burden and the baseline risk of the patient. Empirical anticoagulation in patients with ESUS and no evidence of AF is an intriguing but still-unproven strategy and therefore should not be adopted outside of randomized clinical trials.
- Atrial Fibrillation
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine