Background: In the general population the leading cause of cardioembolic stroke is atrial
fibrillation (AF). A silent AF is also the possible cause of many cryptogenic strokes. P wave
dispersion (PWD), a predictor of AF, has been proposed as a marker of silent AF occurrence in
these strokes. PWD correlates with high-sensitive C-reactive protein levels reflecting the role of
inflammation in promoting a slowed and inhomogeneous atrial conduction. Statins have a multitude
of additional effects beyond lipid lowering, in particular anti-inflammatory effects that may
influence atrial conduction.
Objective: The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of previous statin use on PWD in
patients with cryptogenic stroke, in order to highlight a possible role for statins in preventing atrial
conduction alterations that predispose to AF.
Method: We enrolled 131 patients (67 males, 64 females; mean age 69±13 years) with cryptogenic
stroke. All patients underwent neuroimaging examination, arterial ultrasound examination,
echocardiography and ECG. PWD was measured in all subjects.
Results: Patients previously treated with statins (n: 34) had lower PWD and P index values in
comparison with no-statin group (41.7±12.2 vs 48.7±15.2 ms, p=0.01, and 14.2±3.7 vs 16.5±5.3 ms,
Conclusions: Our results show lower PWD values in cryptogenic stroke patients previously treated
with statins. These findings provide support to the hypothesis that statins may play a role in
modulating atrial electrophysiological and structural properties, preventing the occurrence of a
slowed and heterogeneous atrial conduction and finally, reducing the occurrence of AF.