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Self-Measurement of Pulse Can Help Identify Atrial Fibrillation in Stroke Patients — Physician’s First Watch

Medical News |
July 24, 2014

Self-Measurement of Pulse Can Help Identify Atrial Fibrillation in Stroke Patients

By Amy Orciari Herman

Edited by Susan Sadoughi, MD, and Richard Saitz, MD, MPH, FACP, FASAM

Measurement of the peripheral pulse by stroke patients or their relatives can help distinguish paroxysmal atrial fibrillation (AF) from normal heart rhythm, according to a feasibility study in Neurology.

Over 200 patients hospitalized with acute cerebral ischemia, as well as some of their relatives, were instructed in pulse measurement and in differentiating between normal pulse sensation and suspected AF. Then, patients, relatives, and clinicians took pulse measurements while ECG (with the screen turned off) was performed as the gold standard for comparison.

Pulse measurements by clinicians had a sensitivity of 97% and specificity of 94% for detecting AF. Those performed by relatives were 77% sensitive and 93% specific, and those by competent patients were 54% sensitive and 96% specific. In all measurement scenarios, false-positive rates were low.

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