Atrial fibrillation (AF) is an age-related increasing disease, characterized by a high number of relapses frequently leading the patients to Emergency Department (ED). Despite AF relapses may be clinically heterogeneous, a proper management requires either a fast and effective restore of the sinus rhythm or a satisfactory control of the ventricular rate. Whether the strategy adopted in the ED could affect the course of disease is still a debated.
Therefore, the aim of our study was to evaluate the number of ED readmission for AF related symptoms and the event-free period in patients older than 70 years previously treated in ED for an AF recurrence, in order to assess a possible relationship with the acute strategy.
An overall number of 302 recurrences of AF were drawn randomly, regarding 102 patients (mean age 78 years). We found that 206 cases (68.2%) were treated with rhythm restoration strategy (RR) whereas 96 (31.8%) with rate control strategy (RC). The median following event-free period was 118.6 +/- 15.5 and 212.9 +/- 37.1 days (p < 0.05) for RR and RC strategy, respectively. Within 6 months, 124 (60.1%) out of RR group patients and only 44 (45.8%) out of RC group patients had to be readmitted to ED for AF related symptoms (whether a recurrence or inefficient rate control symptoms) (p< 0.05). This advantage was substantially confirmed (79.1% vs 65.6% respectively, p < 0.05) after a 12 months follow-up. Our results indicate that acute treatment of AF may affect the long-term outcome of the disease and the ED readmission rate of the patient. Ventricular rate control seems to be associated with a longer event-free period if compared to the rhythm control strategy in the elderly patients. This suggests an age-based work-up of patients admitted to the ED, preferentially using ventricular rate control in elderly subjects.
Credits: Bonora Antonio; Turcato Gianni; Franchi Elena; Dilda Alice; Taioli Gabriele; Serafini Valentina; Sivero Valentina; Zannoni Massimo; Ricci Giorgio; Olivieri Oliviero