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Gender and Racial Characteristics of Patients Referred to a Tertiary Atrial Fibrillation Center

Atrial Fibrillation Centers (AFCs) are becoming increasingly common and are often developed at institutions to provide comprehensive evaluation and management for patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) including catheter and surgical ablation.  Studies have shown that women and racial minority patients are less likely to be offered aggressive or invasive therapies.  The University of Virginia (UVA) AFC was opened in 2004.  We analyzed data collected during initial visits to our AFC from 2004-2008 to determine the gender and racial characteristics of a tertiary AFC population.  Multivariable regression analysis was used to compare clinical characteristics. There were a total of 1664 consecutive initial patient visits.  Cardiologists referred 61% and primary care physicians referred 37% of patients.  Twice as many men were referred as women (570 vs. 1094; P<0.0001).  Women were older (68.0+11.9 vs. 62.4+13.0 years; P<0.0001) and more symptomatic with palpitations (80% vs. 73%; P=0.008), but otherwise were not substantially different from men.  Both men and women were aggressively treated with anticoagulation and rate-controlling medications by our referring physicians.  Minority patients were infrequently referred, with only 46 African American patients in the total population.  In conclusion, the demographics of a tertiary FAC are different than those of the general population.  Women and racial minority patients are underrepresented, and the women have few comorbidities and symptoms than the known epidemiology would lead us to expect.


Credits: Pamela K. Mason, MD; Liza Moorman, RN, ACNP-BC; Douglas E. Lake, PhD; J. Michael Mangrum, MD; John P. DiMarco, MD, PhD; John D. Ferguson, MBChB, MD; Srijoy Mahapatra, MD; Kenneth C. Bilchick, MD; David Wiggins, BS, RN; J. Paul Mounsey, MD, PhD; J. Randall Moorman, MD

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