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Objectives: Strokes are a major cause of morbidity and mortality. This study aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of routine cardiac investigations in identifying a cardioembolic aetiology for ischaemic strokes. Methods: This retrospective study involved patients who presented with a stroke to the Sultan Qaboos University Hospital, Muscat, Oman, between January and December 2019. Results: A total of 183 patients (mean age = 66.2 ± 13.5 years), the majority of which were male (n = 109, 59.6%), were included. The common risk factors included hypertension (74.9%), diabetes (61.7%) and hyperlipidaemia (54.6%). The middle cerebral artery was the most common artery affected, in 44 patients (24.0%). On admission, 14 (7.6%) patients were in atrial fibrillation (AF), while the rest were in sinus rhythm. The 24-hour electrocardiogram (ECG) Holter monitoring revealed no abnormalities in 135 patients. AF was observed in 15 (8.1%) patients (inclusive of the 14 who had AF on resting ECG). Furthermore, 32 (17.4%) patients had evidence of non-sustained atrial arrhythmia, and nine (4.9%) had non-sustained ventricular tachycardia. Frequent supraventricular ectopics (>30/hour) was noted on 30 patients (16.3%), while five (2.7%) patients had a high ventricular ectopic burden (>10% burden). No significant abnormalities were noted in the echocardiograms of the patients; however, 10 out of 132 (7.5%) patients presented a positive bubble echo. Enlarged left atria were found in 24 (13.1%) patients. Conclusion: The overall diagnostic yield of the abnormalities from routine cardiac testing for patients with stroke appears to be low. Targeted screening of patients with cryptogenic stroke, as suggested by newer guidelines, is recommended.
Keywords: Cerebrovascular Accidents; Echocardiography; Atrial Fibrillation; Oman.
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