Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial Fibrillation’s Downstream Consequences

A BMJ study out of Denmark provided alarming new insights into atrial fibrillation’s impact on patients’ future cardiovascular health, while highlighting the need to improve post-AFib heart failure and stroke prevention.

The researchers analyzed 2000-2022 data from 3.5M Danish people who didn’t have AFib at baseline (45-95yrs, 48yr avg, 51.7% women), including 362k people who experienced AFib during the study period:

  • Lifetime AFib risk was 27.7% overall, increasing from 24.2% in 2000-2010 to 30.9% in 2011-2022.
  • Heart failure was the most frequent post-AFib complication with a 41.2% lifetime risk, which remained stable at 42.9% and 42.1%.
  • Stroke was the second most common post-AFib complication with a 21% lifetime risk, falling from 22.4% to 19.9% during the two periods.
  • Post-AFib myocardial infarction was the third most common at 12%, with MI rates falling from 13.7% to 9.8%

The study’s startlingly-high heart failure risks post-AFib drove the most headlines, suggesting that HF prevention deserves far more attention in AFib guidelines and treatment development.

However, the fact that post-AFib stroke rates remain around 20% despite the common use of anticoagulants in AFib patients is a sign that greater stroke prevention improvements are also needed.

The Takeaway

This study got the most buzz for highlighting the surprisingly high connection between AFib and heart failure, and the lagging role of HF prevention in AFib care. However, it is perhaps most notable for underscoring AFib’s broad cardiovascular impact and the overall need to improve AFib prevention, detection, and treatment in order to reduce these sobering post-AFib event rates.

Get twice-weekly insights on the biggest stories shaping cardiology.

You might also like

You might also like..

Select All

You're signed up!

It's great to have you as a reader. Check your inbox for a welcome email.

-- The Cardiac Wire Team

You're all set!