Journal of Stroke (2020-09-01)

Nurse Led Smartphone Electrographic Monitoring for Atrial Fibrillation after Ischemic Stroke: SPOT-AF

  • Bernard Yan,
  • Hans Tu,
  • Christina Lam,
  • Corey Swift,
  • Ma Sze Ho,
  • Vincent C.T. Mok,
  • Yi Sui,
  • David Sharpe,
  • Darshan Ghia,
  • Jim Jannes,
  • Stephen Davis,
  • Xinfeng Liu,
  • Ben Freedman

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 22, no. 3
pp. 387 – 395


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Background and Purpose Paroxysmal atrial fibrillation (PAF) underlying acute stroke frequently evades detection by standard practice, considered to be a combination of routine electrocardiogram (ECG) monitoring, and 24-hour Holter recordings. We hypothesized that nurse-led in-hospital intermittent monitoring approach would increase PAF detection rate. Methods We recruited patients hospitalised for stroke/transient ischemic attack, without history of atrial fibrillation (AF), in a prospective multi-centre observational study. Patients were monitored using a smartphone-enabled handheld ECG (iECG) during routine nursing observations, and underwent 24-hour Holter monitoring according to local practice. The primary outcome was comparison of AF detection by nurse-led iECG versus Holter monitoring in patients who received both tests: secondary outcome was oral anticoagulant commencement at 3-month following PAF detection. Results One thousand and seventy-nine patients underwent iECG monitoring: 294 had iECG and Holter monitoring. AF was detected in 25/294 (8.5%) by iECG, and 8/294 (2.8%) by 24-hour Holter recordings (P<0.001). Median duration from stroke onset to AF detection for iECG was 3 days (interquartile range [IQR], 2 to 6) compared with 7 days (IQR, 6 to 10) for Holter recordings (P=0.02). Of 25 patients with AF detected by iECG, 11 were commenced on oral anticoagulant, compared to 5/8 for Holter. AF was detected in 8.8% (69/785 patients) who underwent iECG recordings only (P=0.8 vs. those who had both iECG and 24-hour Holter). Conclusions Nurse-led in-hospital iECG surveillance after stroke is feasible and effective and detects more PAF earlier and more frequently than routine 24-hour Holter recordings. Screening with iECG could be incorporated into routine post-stroke nursing observations to increase diagnosis of PAF, and facilitate institution of guideline-recommended anticoagulation.