University of California – Irvine School of Medicine researchers say a pouchlike structure inside the heart’s left atrial chamber in some individuals may help explain strokes that otherwise have no identifiable cause.

A university news release reports that during the study, Mark Fisher, MD, a professor of neurology and pathology & laboratory medicine, and colleagues evaluated 75 stroke patients at UC Irvine Medical Center. The goal of the study centered on learning whether this left atrial septal pouch could be a source of stroke-causing blood clots.

Among the 23 patients who sustained a stroke of undetermined origin (a “cryptogenic” stroke), results indicate 30% possessed the left atrial septal pouch. It was present in only 10% of the 52 patients who had had a stroke with an identifiable trigger.

The release states that UC Irvine cardiologists first discovered this pouchlike structure inside the heart’s left atrial chamber in a 2010 study.

Fisher explains that the “cul-de-sac nature” of the heart pouch may promote the stagnation of the blood, forming clots that can travel into the brain and cause a stroke.

“This finding points to a potentially important cause of strokes. The presence of this pouch could change how neurologists treat these patients and lead to new therapeutic strategies for preventing strokes,” Fisher adds.

Fisher also goes on to emphasize that large-scale studies are necessary to verify the results of this study.

[Source: UC Irvine]