The relative rates of detection of atrial fibrillation (AF) or atrial flutter from evaluating patients with prolonged electrocardiographic monitoring with an external loop recorder or implantable loop recorder after an ischemic stroke are unknown.To determine, in patients with a recent ischemic stroke, whether 12 months of implantable loop recorder monitoring detects more occurrences of AF compared with conventional external loop recorder monitoring for 30 days.Investigator-initiated, open-label, randomized clinical trial conducted at 2 university hospitals and 1 community hospital in Alberta, Canada, including 300 patients within 6 months of ischemic stroke and without known AF from May 2015 through November 2017; final follow-up was in December 2018.Participants were randomly assigned 1:1 to prolonged electrocardiographic monitoring with either an implantable loop recorder (n = 150) or an external loop recorder (n = 150) with follow-up visits at 30 days, 6 months, and 12 months.The primary outcome was the development of definite AF or highly probable AF (adjudicated new AF lasting ≥2 minutes within 12 months of randomization). There were 8 prespecified secondary outcomes including time to event analysis of new AF, recurrent ischemic stroke, intracerebral hemorrhage, death, and device-related serious adverse events within 12 months.Among the 300 patients who were randomized (median age, 64.1 years [interquartile range, 56.1 to 73.7 years]; 121 were women [40.3%]; and 66.3% had a stroke of undetermined etiology with a median CHA2DS2-VASc [congestive heart failure, hypertension, age ≥75 years, diabetes, stroke or transient ischemic attack, vascular disease, age 65 to 74 years, sex category] score of 4 [interquartile range, 3 to 5]), 273 (91.0%) completed cardiac monitoring lasting 24 hours or longer and 259 (86.3%) completed both the assigned monitoring and 12-month follow-up visit. The primary outcome was observed in 15.3% (23/150) of patients in the implantable loop recorder group and 4.7% (7/150) of patients in the external loop recorder group (between-group difference, 10.7% [95% CI, 4.0% to 17.3%]; risk ratio, 3.29 [95% CI, 1.45 to 7.42]; P = .003). Of the 8 specified secondary outcomes, 6 were not significantly different. There were 5 patients (3.3%) in the implantable loop recorder group who had recurrent ischemic stroke vs 8 patients (5.3%) in the external loop recorder group (between-group difference, -2.0% [95% CI, -6.6% to 2.6%]), 1 (0.7%) vs 1 (0.7%), respectively, who had intracerebral hemorrhage (between-group difference, 0% [95% CI, -1.8% to 1.8%]), 3 (2.0%) vs 3 (2.0%) who died (between-group difference, 0% [95% CI, -3.2% to 3.2%]), and 1 (0.7%) vs 0 (0%) who had device-related serious adverse events.Among patients with ischemic stroke and no prior evidence of AF, implantable electrocardiographic monitoring for 12 months, compared with prolonged external monitoring for 30 days, resulted in a significantly greater proportion of patients with AF detected over 12 months. Further research is needed to compare clinical outcomes associated with these monitoring strategies and relative cost-effectiveness.ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT02428140.
Brian H Buck, Michael D Hill, F Russell Quinn, Ken S Butcher, Bijoy K Menon, Sajad Gulamhusein, Muzaffar Siddiqui, Shelagh B Coutts, Thomas Jeerakathil, Eric E Smith, Khurshid Khan, Phillip A Barber, Glen Jickling, Lucy Reyes, Supriya Save, Paige Fairall, Lori Piquette, Noreen Kamal, Derek S Chew, Andrew M Demchuk, Ashfaq Shuaib, Derek V Exner