At Valley, we evaluate all patients who suffer a stroke with the possibility of atrial fibrillation in mind as the cause, knowing that it is a major risk factor for this devastating condition. Sometimes, you may present with stroke, but the etiology (cause) remains uncertain after the initial cardiac and neurologic evaluation.
As electrophysiologists, we focus on ambulatory ECG monitoring techniques, including external and internal monitors (such as an implantable loop recorder or ILR), to determine if you are having atrial fibrillation, so we can provide you with optimal care.
However, if we know for certain that you have atrial fibrillation, we evaluate each individual risk factor for stroke using a tool that measures associated comorbidities, called the “CHA2DS2-VASc” score.
This tool determines if you are at high risk for stroke; each letter represents a component such as age, gender, diabetes and various heart conditions. A “CHA2DS2-VASc” score of 1 or greater represents an indication for anticoagulation.
Most often, anticoagulation (blood thinning medication) is the best and most appropriate option, reducing the risk for a stroke by up to 80%. If you cannot take a blood thinner, or prefer not to take one, then we recommend and implant a stroke prevention device such as the Watchman™.