Northwest Texas Healthcare System Launches Cryptogenic Stroke Pathway Program

Tuesday, January 8, 2019
Doctor and patient

Northwest Texas Healthcare System announced that it is improving care for patients with the launch of a Cryptogenic Stroke Pathway program. This is the first-of-its-kind, long-term monitoring and treatment care program for patients who experienced a cryptogenic stroke, also known as a stroke of unknown cause. As part of the new program, Northwest has established a cross-functional, multidisciplinary stroke team to ensure integrated care delivery and consistent follow-up and treatment for patients. The program aims to detect atrial fibrillation (AF), an irregular or rapid heartbeat. If undiagnosed, AF may lead to a second stroke.

While some hospitals follow a protocol for patients who experience an ischemic stroke, few have implemented a standardized approach specific to cryptogenic stroke. As a result, patients may not receive necessary long-term cardiac monitoring, which has been shown to detect AF in 30 percent of cryptogenic stroke patients.

“Due to the asymptomatic nature of AF, the condition is not always detected in cryptogenic stroke patients,” said Dr. Mazin Saadaldin, Hospitalist, Sound Physicians at Northwest and Assistant Professor at Texas Tech University. “As a demonstration of our commitment to delivering the most comprehensive care to these patients, our stroke team is proud to implement a customized monitoring approach that brings all experts together and better enables us to reduce and manage the risk of a secondary stroke.”

Through the Cryptogenic Stroke Pathway, healthcare providers can now evaluate whether a patient may benefit from longer-term cardiac monitoring. If indicated, patients who have experienced a cryptogenic stroke will be recommended for a long-term monitoring device called the Reveal LINQ Insertable Cardiac Monitor (ICM) from Medtronic.

The Reveal LINQ ICM automatically and continuously detects and records abnormal heart rhythms for up to three years. This enables physicians to more easily detect AF and change a patient’s medical therapy that may help to reduce the risk of a second stroke. The device is one-third the size of a AAA battery and is connected to the Medtronic CareLink Network, which alerts physicians if their patient experiences a cardiac event. The Reveal LINQ ICM is MR-conditional, allowing patients to undergo magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), if needed.