Background and Purpose—
Atrial cardiopathy and atherosclerotic plaque are two potential mechanisms underlying embolic strokes of undetermined source (ESUS). The relationship between these two mechanisms among ESUS patients remains unclear. A better understanding of their association may inform targeted secondary prevention strategies.
We examined the association between atrial cardiopathy and atherosclerotic plaque in the NAVIGATE ESUS trial (New Approach Rivaroxaban Inhibition of Factor Xa in a Global Trial Versus ASA to Prevent Embolism in Embolic Stroke of Undetermined Source), which enrolled 7213 patients with recent ESUS during 2014 to 2017. For this analysis, we included patients with data on left atrial dimension, location of brain infarction, and cervical large artery plaque. The variables of primary interest were left atrial diameter and cervical plaque ipsilateral to brain infarction. Secondary markers of atrial cardiopathy were premature atrial contractions on Holter monitoring and newly diagnosed atrial fibrillation. For descriptive purposes, left atrial enlargement was defined as ≥4.7 cm. Multivariable logistic regression was used to examine the association between atrial cardiopathy markers and ipsilateral plaque after adjustment for age, sex, body mass index, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, current smoking, and hyperlipidemia.
Among 3983 eligible patients, 235 (5.9%) had left atrial enlargement, 939 (23.6%) had ipsilateral plaque, and 94 (2.4%) had both. Shared risk factors for left atrial enlargement and ipsilateral plaque were male sex, white race, hypertension, tobacco use, and coronary artery disease. Despite shared risk factors, increasing left atrial dimension was not associated with ipsilateral plaque after adjustment for covariates (odds ratio per cm, 1.1 [95% CI, 1.0–1.2];
P=0.08). We found no consistent associations between secondary markers of atrial cardiopathy and ipsilateral plaque. Conclusions—
In a large population of patients with ESUS, we did not observe a notable association between atrial cardiopathy and atherosclerotic plaque, and few patients had both conditions. These findings suggest that atrial cardiopathy and atherosclerotic plaque may be distinct, nonoverlapping risk factors for stroke among ESUS patients.