Background: The prevalence of asymptomatic strokes detected by brain imaging in a large cohort of patients with congestive heart failure (CHF) and reduced ejection fraction (EF) is unknown. Methods and Results: The present study was conducted to assess the prevalence of cerebrovascular accidents (CVA) diagnosed by routine brain imaging in neurologically asymptomatic patients with CHF who were being evaluated for heart transplantation. A comprehensive review of clinical data in a consecutive case series of 168 adult patients being evaluated was conducted. Patients at a high risk of having cerebral infarction (ie, history of transient ischemic attack or stroke, paroxysmal or chronic atrial fibrillation, intracardiac thrombi, and prosthetic valves) were excluded. Brain imaging was performed as part of a routine pre-heart transplant evaluation protocol. The prevalence of silent ischemic strokes was 34%. Multiple logistic regression analysis revealed a 2.3 (95% CI 1.05-5.03) times increased risk of silent strokes if a patient was African American. Traditional risk factors such as age, gender, hypertension, and diabetes mellitus were not predictive of CVA in this population. Conclusion: Patients with CHF and a left ventricular EF less than 20% being evaluated for heart transplantation have a high prevalence of ischemic CVA. The role of anticoagulation in this high-risk group of patients should be further explored.
- Congestive heart failure
- Heart transplantation
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine