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Next frontier for stroke prevention in atrial fibrillation: ensuring anticoagulant persistence
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    Next frontier is inclusion of high-grade carotid artery stenosis in the CHA2DS2 Vasc score

    A corollary to the recommendation for anticoagulant persistence is a recognition that the time is long overdue for inclusion of evaluation of the extracranial carotid artery for evidence of high grade(ie >50 occlusion) carotid artery stenosis(CAS). The following is the rationale for the latter recommendation:-
    Among patients aged > 70 high-grade CAS has a prevalence of 12% among men and 11% among women(1).
    A systematic review of 9 studies(2611 patients) reporting presumed pathophysiological stroke mechanisms in patients with nonvalvular atrial fibrillation(NVAF) disclosed that 11%-24% of patients with the association of stroke and NVAF have high-grade CAS(2).
    Some stroke patients with NVAF have high-grade CAS ipsilateral to the culprit cerebral infarct, implying an aetiological role for the CAS in the pathogenesis of the incident stroke(3).
    During the entire history of the CHA2DS2 Vasc score we have squandared the opportunity to include ultrasonography of the extracranial carotid artery in the routine work up of newly diagnosed patients with NVAF. This was a missed opportunity to identify CAS as the potential aetiological agent in the event of the occurrence of manifestations of symptomatic CAS such as amaurosis fugax, transient ischemic attack, or non disabling stroke.. Without prior knowledge of the status of the carotid arteries those manifestations might have been missed opportunities to implement strategies such as carotid arte...

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    Conflict of Interest:
    None declared.