Simultaneous cerebral and myocardial infarction is called cardiocerebral infarction (CCI), and is rarely encountered. Because of the narrow time window and complex pathophysiology, CCI is challenging to immediately diagnose and treat.
A 73-year-old woman suddenly developed right hemiplegia and severe aphasia. Twelve-lead electrocardiography showed tachycardic atrial fibrillation without any significant ST-T change. Magnetic resonance imaging revealed a proximal middle cerebral artery occlusion. She was immediately treated with alteplase at the dosage approved for ischemic stroke followed by mechanical thrombectomy, and complete recanalization was achieved. Aphasia improved and she began to complain of chest pain, and reported that she had experienced chest discomfort just prior to right limb weakness. Coronary angiography showed a partial filling defect in the right coronary artery with rapid and adequate distal flow, for which percutaneous coronary intervention was not required. Alteplase was suggested to have effectively resolved the coronary emboli. The occlusions of the cerebral and coronary arteries were assumed to have occurred nearly simultaneously and cardiogenic embolism due to atrial fibrillation was considered as the most likely etiology.
As seen in the present case, CCI may benefit from immediate treatment with intravenous tissue plasminogen activator (IV-tPA). Although which of percutaneous coronary intervention or cerebral thrombectomy should be performed first remains unclear, we must decide to rescue the brain or heart first in each patient within a limited window of time. In this era with both IV-tPA and mechanical thrombectomy robustly established as effective intervention for acute ischemic stroke, close cooperation between stroke physicians and cardiologists is becoming more important.