Asymptomatic embolisation in non-valvular atrial fibrillation and its relationship to anticoagulation therapy

Kerry Tinkler, Marisa Cullinane, Zoltan Kaposzta, Hugh S. Markus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: A prospective study to determine the prevalence of embolic signals (ES) detected with transcranial Doppler ultrasound (TCD) in subjects with non-valvular atrial fibrillation (NVAF) who were and were not taking anticoagulants. Methods: Sixty-eight subjects with NVAF taking warfarin and sixty-three NVAF subjects not taking warfarin were recruited from the cardiology department. No patients had suffered a previous stroke or clinical systemic embolisation. Thirty subjects in sinus rhythm were recruited as controls. TCD recordings were performed bilaterally from the middle cerebral arteries for 1 h. In 126 subjects (96%) the recording was repeated 1 week later. All Doppler recordings were reviewed blindly by an observer for ES. Results: After one recording ES were detected in one warfarin NVAF subject (1.5%), four non-warfarin NVAF subjects (6.3%) and no sinus rhythm controls. Following both recordings ES were detected in one warfarin NVAF subject (1.5%) and seven non-warfarin NVAF subjects (11.9%) P=0.017. Conclusions: Asymptomatic ES can be detected in a minority of subjects with NVAF. These signals were significantly less common in NVAF subjects taking warfarin, and this is consistent with asymptomatic ES having clinical significance in this disease. TCD detection of ES may have application in patients with NVAF for risk stratification, and assessment of the efficacy of new anti-platelet and anti-thrombotic regimens in the condition. Further large prospective studies are required to determine whether ES predict stroke risk in this patient group.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-27
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Ultrasound
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • Anticoagulation
  • Arrhythmia
  • Doppler ultrasound
  • Embolism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics

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