Clinical Features of Recurrent Embolization in Acute Cardioembolic Stroke

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Abstract

Background and Purpose

Recurrent embolization is a serious problem in acute cardioembolic stroke. However, the clinical features and predisposing factors of recurrent embolization have not been fully elucidated.

Methods

Subjects were 227 consecutive patients (128 men and 99 women, aged 68.6 ±13.2 years) with acute cardioembolic stroke who did not receive anticoagulant therapy during the first 14 days after stroke onset. We assigned the subjects to two groups according to the occurrence or nonoccurrence of recurrent attacks within 14 days of the stroke onset. We assessed their clinical features, coagulation study results, and underlying heart disease.

Results

Recurrent brain or systemic embolization during the first 14 days after onset was noted in 46 patients (20.3%, group A) but not in the other 181 (group B). Recurrent embolization was more frequently noted at an early phase than at a late phase during the initial 14 days. Mortality was higher in group A (19.6%) than in group B (8.8%). The mean plasma level of antithrombin III (77.8±19.5%) at admission in group A patients was significantly lower than that in group B patients (87.9 ±15.5%). After admission, hematocrit decreased in group B patients but slightly increased in group A patients, in whom diuretics were more commonly used. Rheumatic heart disease and prosthetic valves, in addition to the presence of intracardiac thrombi, were seen more commonly in group A patients, whereas atrial fibrillation without organic heart disease and myocardial infarction were more frequent in group B patients.

Conclusions

Low plasma levels of antithrombin III, dehydration, the use of diuretics, and the presence of rheumatic heart disease, prosthetic valves, and intracardiac thrombi seem to be predisposing factors for recurrent embolization. Immediate anticoagulation may be considered in acute cardioembolic stroke patients if such predisposing factors are demonstrated. (Stroke. 1993;24:1681-1685.)

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