Background Our aim was to determine whether patients with embolic strokes of undetermined source (ESUS) have higher rates of elevated troponin than patients with noncardioembolic strokes.
Methods and Results CAESAR (The Cornell Acute Stroke Academic Registry) prospectively enrolled all adults with acute stroke from 2011 to 2014. Two neurologists used standard definitions to retrospectively ascertain the etiology of stroke, with a third resolving disagreements. In this analysis we included patients with ESUS and, as controls, patients with small‐ and large‐artery strokes; only patients with a troponin measured within 24 hours of stroke onset were included. A troponin elevation was defined as a value exceeding our laboratory's upper limit (0.04 ng/mL) without a clinically recognized acute ST‐segment elevation myocardial infarction. Multiple logistic regression was used to evaluate the association between troponin elevation and ESUS after adjustment for demographics, stroke severity, insular infarction, and vascular risk factors. In a sensitivity analysis we excluded patients diagnosed with atrial fibrillation after discharge. Among 512 patients, 243 (47.5%) had ESUS, and 269 (52.5%) had small‐ or large‐artery stroke. In multivariable analysis an elevated troponin was independently associated with ESUS (odds ratio 3.3; 95% confidence interval 1.2, 8.8). This result was unchanged after excluding patients diagnosed with atrial fibrillation after discharge (odds ratio 3.4; 95% confidence interval 1.3, 9.1), and the association remained significant when troponin was considered a continuous variable (odds ratio for log[troponin], 1.4; 95% confidence interval 1.1, 1.7).
Conclusions Elevations in cardiac troponin are more common in patients with ESUS than in those with noncardioembolic strokes.
Unfortunately the test characteristics for determining cardioembolic stroke are poor. Most patients with cardioembolic stroke do not have elevated troponins and some with other types of stroke have elevations.