[Skip to Navigation]
Original Investigation
June 1, 2021

Effect of Implantable vs Prolonged External Electrocardiographic Monitoring on Atrial Fibrillation Detection in Patients With Ischemic Stroke: The PER DIEM Randomized Clinical Trial

Author Affiliations
  • 1Division of Neurology, Department of Medicine, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada
  • 2Departments of Clinical Neurosciences, Radiology, Medicine, and Community Health Sciences, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
  • 3Hotchkiss Brain Institute, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
  • 4Libin Cardiovascular Institute, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
  • 5Division of Cardiology, Department of Medicine, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada
JAMA. 2021;325(21):2160-2168. doi:10.1001/jama.2021.6128
Key Points

Question  What is the rate of detection of atrial fibrillation with use of an implantable electrocardiographic monitor for 12 months vs use of prolonged external electrocardiographic monitoring for 30 days after an ischemic stroke?

Findings  In this randomized clinical trial that included 300 patients, the rate of detection of atrial fibrillation or flutter lasting 2 minutes or longer by 12 months was 15.3% in the implantable loop recorder group vs 4.7% in the prolonged external loop recorder group, a statistically significant difference.

Meaning  Among patients with ischemic stroke, implantable electrocardiographic monitoring for 12 months resulted in the detection of more patients with atrial fibrillation compared with prolonged external monitoring for 30 days, although further research is needed to better understand clinical outcomes and cost-effectiveness.

Abstract

Importance  The relative rates of detection of atrial fibrillation (AF) or atrial flutter from evaluating patients with prolonged electrocardiographic monitoring with an external loop recorder or implantable loop recorder after an ischemic stroke are unknown.

Objective  To determine, in patients with a recent ischemic stroke, whether 12 months of implantable loop recorder monitoring detects more occurrences of AF compared with conventional external loop recorder monitoring for 30 days.

Design, Setting, and Participants  Investigator-initiated, open-label, randomized clinical trial conducted at 2 university hospitals and 1 community hospital in Alberta, Canada, including 300 patients within 6 months of ischemic stroke and without known AF from May 2015 through November 2017; final follow-up was in December 2018.

Interventions  Participants were randomly assigned 1:1 to prolonged electrocardiographic monitoring with either an implantable loop recorder (n = 150) or an external loop recorder (n = 150) with follow-up visits at 30 days, 6 months, and 12 months.

Main Outcomes and Measures  The primary outcome was the development of definite AF or highly probable AF (adjudicated new AF lasting ≥2 minutes within 12 months of randomization). There were 8 prespecified secondary outcomes including time to event analysis of new AF, recurrent ischemic stroke, intracerebral hemorrhage, death, and device-related serious adverse events within 12 months.

Results  Among the 300 patients who were randomized (median age, 64.1 years [interquartile range, 56.1 to 73.7 years]; 121 were women [40.3%]; and 66.3% had a stroke of undetermined etiology with a median CHA2DS2-VASc [congestive heart failure, hypertension, age ≥75 years, diabetes, stroke or transient ischemic attack, vascular disease, age 65 to 74 years, sex category] score of 4 [interquartile range, 3 to 5]), 273 (91.0%) completed cardiac monitoring lasting 24 hours or longer and 259 (86.3%) completed both the assigned monitoring and 12-month follow-up visit. The primary outcome was observed in 15.3% (23/150) of patients in the implantable loop recorder group and 4.7% (7/150) of patients in the external loop recorder group (between-group difference, 10.7% [95% CI, 4.0% to 17.3%]; risk ratio, 3.29 [95% CI, 1.45 to 7.42]; P = .003). Of the 8 specified secondary outcomes, 6 were not significantly different. There were 5 patients (3.3%) in the implantable loop recorder group who had recurrent ischemic stroke vs 8 patients (5.3%) in the external loop recorder group (between-group difference, −2.0% [95% CI, −6.6% to 2.6%]), 1 (0.7%) vs 1 (0.7%), respectively, who had intracerebral hemorrhage (between-group difference, 0% [95% CI, −1.8% to 1.8%]), 3 (2.0%) vs 3 (2.0%) who died (between-group difference, 0% [95% CI, −3.2% to 3.2%]), and 1 (0.7%) vs 0 (0%) who had device-related serious adverse events.

Conclusions and Relevance  Among patients with ischemic stroke and no prior evidence of AF, implantable electrocardiographic monitoring for 12 months, compared with prolonged external monitoring for 30 days, resulted in a significantly greater proportion of patients with AF detected over 12 months. Further research is needed to compare clinical outcomes associated with these monitoring strategies and relative cost-effectiveness.

Trial Registration  ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT02428140

×