Background: Ischemic stroke with atrial fibrillation (AF) may recur despite appropriate treatment. It may be AF-related or AF-unrelated. We compared the factors associated with AF-related and AF-unrelated recurrences among ischemic stroke patients with AF. Methods: Patients with ischemic stroke and AF were enrolled from 11 centers in Korea. Ischemic stroke recurrence was classified as AF-related if the lesion pattern was compatible with cardioembolism without significant stenosis or as AF-unrelated if the lesion was more likely due to small vessel disease or arterial stenosis. Factors associated with stroke recurrence (AF-related and AF-unrelated) were investigated. Results: Among the 2,239 patients, 115 (5.1%) experienced recurrence (75 AF-related and 40 AF-unrelated). Factors independently associated with any stroke recurrence included AF diagnosed before stroke, small subcortical infarctions, and small scattered lesions in a single vascular territory. Type of AF was associated with the type of stroke recurrence, with persistent AF being associated with AF-related stroke [hazard ratio (HR) = 2.94, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.69–5.26; p < 0.001]. By contrast, paroxysmal AF (HR = 3.76, 95% CI 1.56–9.04; p = 0.003), AF diagnosed before stroke (HR = 2.38, 95% CI 1.19–4.55; p = 0.014), small scattered lesions in a single vascular territory (reference: corticosubcortical lesion, HR = 3.19, 95% CI 1.18–8.63; p = 0.022), and the use of antiplatelet agents (HR = 2.11, 95% CI 1.11–4.03; p = 0.024) were independently associated with AF-unrelated stroke. Conclusion: Persistent AF was more associated with AF-related stroke recurrence, whereas paroxysmal AF was more associated with AF-unrelated stroke recurrence. A scattered lesion in a single vascular territory may predict AF-unrelated stroke recurrence.
- atrial fibrillation
- cardioembolic brain infarction
- stroke mechanism