More than half of the patients who have suffered a stroke with no well-defined origin have an enlarged left atrium in the heart -- which can be identified with CT, according to research conducted at the Kuopio University Hospital in Finland.
Dr. Mikko Taina of the University of Eastern Finland performed a study that included data from patients who experienced sudden stroke and were treated in the emergency room at the hospital between 2005 and 2009. CT was used to scan not only the patients' blood vessels in the brain and the neck, but also in the heart, particularly to assess the volume of the left atrium, from which most cardiac thrombi originate, according to a statement released by the university.
Taina's team found that, in the patient cohort, the left atrium was on average 67% larger than in a healthy control group.
"This could indicate that enlarged atrial appendage is an independent risk factor of stroke caused by cardiac origins," the university said.