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Original Research: CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE |

A 12-Year Follow-up Study of Patients With Newly Diagnosed Lone Atrial FibrillationLong-term Prognosis of Lone Atrial Fibrillation: Implications of Arrhythmia Progression on Prognosis: The Belgrade Atrial Fibrillation Study

Tatjana S. Potpara, MD, PhD; Goran R. Stankovic, MD, PhD; Branko D. Beleslin, MD, PhD; Marija M. Polovina, MD; Jelena M. Marinkovic, PhD; Miodrag C. Ostojic, MD, PhD; Gregory Y. H. Lip, MD
Author and Funding Information

From the Cardiology Clinic (Drs Potpara, Stankovic, Beleslin, Polovina, and Ostojic), Clinical Centre of Serbia, Belgrade, Serbia; Institute for Medical Statistics (Dr Marinkovic), University School of Medicine, Medical Faculty (Drs Potpara, Stankovic, Beleslin, and Ostojic), University of Belgrade, Serbia; and University of Birmingham Centre for Cardiovascular Sciences (Dr Lip), City Hospital, Birmingham, England.

Correspondence to: Tatjana S. Potpara, MD, PhD, Cardiology Clinic, Clinical Center of Serbia, Koste Todorovica 8, 11000 Belgrade, Serbia; e-mail: tanjapotpara@gmail.com


For editorial comment see page 290

Funding/Support: The authors have reported to CHEST that no funding was received for this study.

Reproduction of this article is prohibited without written permission from the American College of Chest Physicians (http://www.chestpubs.org/site/misc/reprints.xhtml).


© 2012 American College of Chest Physicians


Chest. 2012;141(2):339-347. doi:10.1378/chest.11-0340
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Background:  Lone atrial fibrillation (AF) has been suggested to have a favorable long-term prognosis. Significant interest has been directed at factors predicting arrhythmia progression, and the HATCH score (hypertension, age ≥ 75 years, transient ischemic attack or stroke [2 points], COPD, and heart failure [2 points]) recently has been proposed as a predictive score for AF progression. We investigated long-term outcomes in a large cohort of newly diagnosed lone AF and whether progression from paroxysmal to permanent AF confers an adverse impact on outcomes, including stroke and thromboembolism.

Methods:  The study was an observational cohort of 346 patients with newly diagnosed lone AF with a mean follow-up of 12.1 ± 7.3 years.

Results:  Baseline paroxysmal AF was confirmed in 242 patients, and of these, 65 (26.9%) subsequently experienced progression to permanent AF. Older age and development of congestive heart failure during follow-up were the multivariate predictors of AF progression (both P < .01), which was documented in 19.8% of patients with a HATCH score of 0 vs 63.2% with a score of 2 (P < .001), although the predictive validity of the HATCH score per se was modest (C statistic, 0.6). The annual rate of thromboembolism and heart failure during follow-up were low (0.4% each), and five patients (1.4%) died. AF progression, development of cardiac diseases, and older age were multivariate predictors of adverse outcomes, including thromboembolism (all P < .05). Baseline CHADS2 (congestive heart failure, hypertension, age ≥ 75, diabetes mellitus, prior stroke or transient ischemic attack) score was not predictive for thromboembolism (C statistic, 0.50; 95% CI, 0.31-0.69).

Conclusions:  This 12-year follow-up study provides confirmatory evidence of a generally favorable prognosis of lone AF, but adverse outcomes (including stroke and thromboembolism) are significantly influenced by age and the (new) development of underlying heart disease. Arrhythmia progression in lone AF is a marker of increased risk for adverse cardiovascular events.

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