Thursday 2nd February 2012
The cause of a stroke can usually be identified by doctors but one in five attacks can not be explained.
One in three sufferers can leave hospital with doctors still unaware of why the attack took place. However, new research by a team at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit has highlighted an erratic heart rhythm as the main cause of these unexplained strokes.
NHS officials believe that the condition is a very big problem in the UK with an estimated 150,000 people having a stroke each year.
The Henry Ford Hospital team confirmed the accuracy of a 2008 report which suggested that heart beats of less than 30 seconds could lead to paroxysmal atrial fibrillation which in turn can lead to strokes by creating blood clots on the heart.
Drugs such as dabigatran and rivaroxaban have been highlighted as a way to combat the erratic heart beats stroke sufferers incur.
Daniel J. Miller, the study's author, said: "Identifying and treating these patients for irregular rhythm could reduce the recurrence of stroke by 40 per cent compared to reducing the risk by treating them with aspirin."
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Written by Mathew Horton