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Curr Treat Options Neurol. 2000 Jul;2(4):305-318.

Cardiac Causes of Stroke.

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  • 1Service de Neurologie, Hôpital Lariboisière, 2 Rue A. Paré, 75010 Paris, France.


At least 20% of all ischemic strokes are cardioembolic. Cardiac conditions that cause cerebral embolism are classified as major or minor depending on whether the causal link has or has not been fully established between the underlying cardiac condition and the stroke. Atrial fibrillation, acute myocardial infarction, valvular heart disease, infective endocarditis, nonbacterial thrombotic endocarditis, and atrial myxoma are the main cardiac causes of cerebral embolism. Patent foramen ovale, atrial septal aneurysm, mitral valve prolapse, mitral annular calcification, calcific aortic stenosis, and mitral valve strands are cardiac conditions with a potential causal link to cerebral embolism, but until now, either they have been found to be poor predictors of recurrent stroke or their risk of recurrent stroke is unknown. The management of patients with a stroke of cardiac source is twofold: 1) treatment of the acute phase of stroke and 2) prophylactic treatment of recurrent thromboembolism. When possible, primary prevention of cerebral embolism should be recommended, particularly in cardiac conditions with known high risk of stroke (eg, atrial fibrillation, mitral stenosis, or presence of mechanical prosthetic heart valves).

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