Friday, December 22, 2017

Cerebral T waves in ischemic stroke: what do they mean?

Transient, symmetric, and deep inverted electrocardiogram (ECG) T waves in the setting of stroke, commonly referred to as cerebral T waves, are rare, and the underlying mechanism is unclear. Our study aimed to test the hypothesis that cerebral T waves are associated with transient cardiac dysfunction. This retrospective study included 800 patients admitted with the primary diagnosis of hemorrhagic or ischemic stroke. ECGs were examined for cerebral T waves, defined as T-wave inversion of greater than or equal to 5 mm depth in greater than or equal to 4 contiguous precordial leads. Echocardiograms of those meeting these criteria were examined for the presence of left ventricular (LV) wall motion abnormalities. Follow-up evaluation included both ECG and echocardiogram. Of the 800 patients, 17 had cerebral T waves on ECG (2.1%). All 17 patients had ischemic strokes, of which 11 were in the middle cerebral artery distribution (65%), and 2 were cerebellar (12%), whereas the remaining 4 involved other locations. Follow-up ECG showed resolution of the T-wave changes in all 17 patients. Of these patients, 14 (82%) had normal wall motion, and 3 had transient wall motion abnormalities (18%). Two of these patients had Takotsubo-like cardiomyopathy with apical ballooning, and the third had globally reduced LV function. Coronary angiography showed no significant disease to explain the LV dysfunction. In summary, in our cohort of patients with acute stroke, cerebral T waves were rare and occurred only in ischemic stroke. Eighteen percent of patients with cerebral T waves had significant transient wall motion abnormalities. Patients with stroke with cerebral T waves, especially in those with ischemic strokes, should be assessed for cardiac dysfunction.

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