What is a cryptogenic stroke?
Well, a cryptogenic stroke is a fancy way of saying that you had a stroke and nobody knows why you had one. It is a common thing patients describe to me that they had a stroke but they couldn’t figure out why they had a stroke. This means if somebody has a stroke, they’ve been in the hospital, they’ve had MRI’s done in their head. They’ve had testing done the look of blockage in the arteries of their neck or their head. They’ve had a heart testing done like an echocardiogram that showed no holes in your heart and normal heart function. You were also on a heart monitor for several days which didn’t show any arrhythmias. After several days if you’ve gotten better than you end up getting discharging at home but in the result, the patient had a stroke, but nobody knows why it happened. In these patients, a lot of times the reason for the stroke can be undiagnosed atrial fibrillation.
Now the tricky thing about this situation is that to be certain that a stroke was caused by a atrial fibrillation or to prevent another stroke by managing atrial fibrillation better, you have to catch an episode of atrial fibrillation. Sometimes when people are in the hospital for several days and don’t have any episodes of atrial fibrillation, they may not know that they have the condition. There have been some studies showed that when people have had a cryptogenic stroke. It can take over 80 days of monitoring to be able actually to catch atrial fibrillation and figure it the proper treatment plan.
If the patients has atrial fibrillation, this was probably the reason why they had a stroke. Its important to be sure they get the right treatments. What I tell patients when they’re in the hospital with this new stroke and we have found no apparent reason, it requires further testing even outside of the hospital to see if there’s any undiagnosed atrial fibrillation after hospitalization. You may start off with simple heart monitors that on top of your skin to see if there’s any evidence from undiagnosed atrial fibrillation.
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