PEORIA, Ill. – A targeted survey released by patient advocacy group, United Stroke Alliance, with support from Medtronic, found that while nearly 80% of stroke survivors and 90% of caregivers were concerned about the risk of a second stroke, only 6% (2 of 30 patients) were prescribed an insertable cardiac monitor (ICM). Inserted just underneath the skin for up to several years, ICMs are able to detect intermittent abnormal heart rhythms in patients, such as atrial fibrillation (AF), which can lead to stroke.
Approximately one in four stroke survivors will experience another stroke within five years.In some cases, these patients may have AF, an irregular heartbeat that is associated with a five-fold greater risk of stroke. Long-term, continuous heart monitoring with an ICM can be a critical tool for detecting AF and informing secondary stroke prevention treatment strategies; yet the recent sampling of stroke survivors within the United Stroke Alliance community suggests many are not receiving long-term monitoring – or any heart monitoring – following stroke.
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In the survey, 30% of stroke survivors reported they were given some form of short-term heart monitoring after their stroke, only 6% received an ICM for long-term monitoring, while nearly half (43%) did not receive any form of heart monitoring, either short- or long-term.
“Stroke is often a life-altering event, and survivors are not only navigating recovery, but they are also often working with their care team to build a customized treatment plan to prevent a second stroke,” says Marylee Nunley, co-founder and national board member at the United Stroke Alliance. “Understanding their individual risk factors and the latest treatment and monitoring options available is not only critical to their long-term recovery, but it can also be a life-saver.”
Gaps in the Stroke Care Pathway
These survey findings reveal a critical gap in stroke management care pathways as recent clinical research shows long-term heart monitoring significantly increases AF detection rates that short-term monitoring often does not detect. In fact, in 78% of stroke patients, AF would go undetected if monitored for only 30 days compared to a year (STROKE AF Study).ii Clinical studies have also shown that, compared to conventional cardiac monitoring, long-term cardiac monitoring increases AF detection and enhances the speed with which patients are given treatment, ultimately cutting the risk of recurrent stroke in half.iii
Of the patients surveyed, just over one-third (37%) of stroke survivors report being referred to a cardiologist or electrophysiologist following their stroke, which is consistent with findings from the DiVERT clinical study phase one results that underscored the need for stronger, standardized care pathways. Yet, stroke survivors rank being referred to a cardiologist or electrophysiologist – in addition to participating in survivor patient groups – as the most helpful ways to learn more about AF and heart monitoring, highlighting the need to strengthen the referral pathway.
“We’ve learned from clinical studies that long-term heart monitoring with a Medtronic ICM following a stroke leads to detecting more atrial fibrillation,” said Alan Cheng, M.D., chief medical officer of the Medtronic Cardiac Rhythm Management operating unit. “Often, the impact of a second stroke is more severe due to the additional damage to the brain. That’s why it is important that stroke patients have the right monitoring in place to inform their treatment plan and potentially lessen the risk of a second stroke.”
To find more information and resources from the United Stroke Alliance, visit Unitedstrokealliance.org, and to learn more about the connection between AF and stroke, as well as long-term cardiac monitoring, visit medtronic.com/StopStroke.