Conference Coverage

VIDEO: Retinal infarctions get missed as stroke harbingers



– Retinal infarctions are often going missed as important red flags for future ischemic strokes.

Among U.S. Medicare beneficiaries older than 65 years who had a retinal infarction (RI), “only one-third underwent adequate stroke risk factor evaluation,” Alexander E. Merkler, MD, reported in a poster presented at the International Stroke Conference sponsored by the American Heart Association. And fewer than 10% underwent assessment by a neurologist, based on a review of 5,688 of these older Medicare beneficiaries who had a RI sometime during 2009-2015.

The high-risk profile of these patients was affirmed by a 1% ischemic stroke incidence during the 90 days following their RI diagnosis, a rate roughly fourfold higher than in similar patients without a recent RI.

“A lot of people don’t recognize that a retinal infarction is a type of stroke,” Dr. Merkler said in a video interview. To test this hypothesis, Dr. Merkler and his associates examined the follow-up run on elderly Medicare beneficiaries following a RI diagnosis.”The guidelines recommend evaluating why these patients had a stroke [a retinal infarction] and treating risk factors to reduce the risk of a future stroke,” said Dr. Merkler, a neurologist at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York.

The review showed that 34% of the RI patients underwent cervical carotid imaging, 29% had heart rhythm monitoring, 23% underwent echocardiography, and 8% had assessment by a neurologist.

Dr. Merkler had no disclosures.

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SOURCE: Merkler A et al. ISC 2018 Abstract TMP76 (Stroke. 2018 Jan;49[Suppl 1]:ATMP76).

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