Progression of Device-Detected Subclinical Atrial Fibrillation and the Risk of Heart Failure

Jorge A. Wong*, David Conen, Isabelle C. Van Gelder, William F. McIntyre, Harry J. Crijns, Jia Wang, Michael R. Gold, Stefan H. Hohnloser, C. P. Lau, Alessandro Capucci, Gianluca Botto, Gerian Gronefeld, Carsten W. Israel, Stuart J. Connolly, Jeff S. Healey

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

61 Citations (Web of Science)


BACKGROUND Long-term continuous monitoring detects short-lasting, subclinical atrial fibrillation (SCAF) in approximately one-third of older individuals with cardiovascular conditions. The relationship between SCAF, its progression, and the development of heart failure (HF) is unclear. OBJECTIVES This study examined the relationship between progression from shorter to longer SCAF episodes and HF hospitalization. METHODS Subjects in ASSERT (Asymptomatic Atrial Fibrillation and Stroke Evaluation in Pacemaker Patients and the Atrial Fibrillation Reduction Atrial Pacing Trial) were >= 65 years old, had history of hypertension, no prior clinical AF, and an implanted pacemaker or defibrillator. We examined patients whose longest SCAF episode during the first year after enrollment was >6 min but <= 24 h (n = 415). Using time-dependent Cox models, we evaluated the relationship between subsequent development of SCAF >24 h or clinical AF and HF hospitalization. RESULTS Over a mean follow-up of 2 years, 65 patients (15.7%) progressed to having SCAF episodes >24 h or clinical AF (incidence 8.8% per year). Older age, greater bodymass index, and longer SCAF duration within the first yearwere independent predictors of SCAF progression. The rate of HF hospitalization among patients with SCAF progression was 8.9% per year compared with 2.5% per year for those without progression. After multivariable adjustment, SCAF progression was independently associatedwithHF hospitalization (hazard ratio [HR]: 4.58; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.64to 12.80; p = 0.004). Similar results were observed when we excluded patients with prior history of HF (HR: 7.06; 95% CI: 1.82 to 27.30; p = 0.005) or when SCAF progression was defined as development of SCAF >24 h alone (HR: 3.68; 95% CI: 1.27 to 10.70; p = 0.016). CONCLUSIONS In patients with a pacemaker or defibrillator, SCAF progression was strongly associated with HF hospitalization. (C) 2018 by the American College of Cardiology Foundation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2603-2611
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American College of Cardiology
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jun 2018


  • atrial fibrillation
  • atrial fibrillation progression
  • health outcome
  • heart failure
  • predictors
  • subclinical atrial fibrillation

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