A 72-year-old woman with a history of hypertension, diabetes, coronary artery disease, and chronic kidney disease presents shortly after experiencing a 20-minute episode of slurred speech and right facial droop. She denies experiencing similar events in the past, but she does endorse a transient episode of vision loss a week ago, intermittent vertigo, and left-sided weakness last month. On exam, her blood pressure is 178/100 mm Hg, her heart rate is 80 beats per minute and regular, and the ECG shows a sinus rhythm. Her stroke scale is zero, and noncontrast cranial CT scan shows an old small cerebellar infarct. It is Friday evening, and you have no inhouse neurology and no MRI capabilities overnight. The patient attributes her symptoms to stress and states that she has experienced anxiety and palpitations recently. She asks if it is necessary for her to be admitted or whether she can seek follow-up with her primary care physician next week.
You correctly identified that the 72-year-old woman was at a high short-term risk of stroke with an ABCD2 score of 6 and multiple recent episodes in different vascular territories as well as evidence of an old infarct on CT scan. At your recommendation, she agreed to admission. You arranged expedited etiologic workup, including carotid duplex and transcranial Doppler ultrasound, which was initially unrevealing. She experienced a brief episode of atrial fibrillation, which was captured on the cardiac monitor, before leaving the ED. Knowing that cardioembolic causes correlate with increased stroke severity and stroke mortality, you arranged for transthoracic echocardiography the next morning, which revealed a left atrial thrombus. She was started on anticoagulation and was recurrence-free at 3 months.
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Last Updated on January 26, 2023