Atrial fibrillation (AF) often starts as a paroxysmal self-terminating arrhythmia. Limited information is available on AF patterns and episode duration of paroxysmal AF. In paroxysmal AF patients, we longitudinally studied the temporal AF patterns, the association with clinical characteristics, and prevalence of AF progression.
Methods and Results
In this interim analysis of the Reappraisal of AF: Interaction Between HyperCoagulability, Electrical Remodelling, and Vascular Destabilisation in the Progression of AF (RACE V) registry, 202 patients with paroxysmal AF were followed with continuous rhythm monitoring (implantable loop recorder or pacemaker) for 6 months. Mean age was 64 ± 9 years, 42% were women. Atrial fibrillation history was 2.1 (0.5-4.4) years, CHA2DS2-VASc 1.9 ± 1.3, 101 (50%) had hypertension, 69 (34%) heart failure. One-third had no AF during follow-up. Patients with long episodes (>12 hours) were often men with more comorbidities (heart failure, coronary artery disease, higher left ventricular mass). Patients with higher AF burden (>2.5%) were older with more comorbidities (worse renal function, higher calcium score, thicker intima media thickness). In 179 (89%) patients, 1-year rhythm follow-up was available. On a quarterly basis, average daily AF burden increased from 3.2% to 3.8%, 5.2%, and 6.1%. Compared to the first 6 months, 111 (62%) patients remained stable during the second 6 months, 39 (22%) showed progression to longer AF episodes, 8 (3%) developed persistent AF, and 29 (16%) patients showed AF regression.
In paroxysmal AF, temporal patterns differ suggesting that paroxysmal AF is not one entity. Atrial fibrillation burden is low and determined by number of comorbidities. Atrial fibrillation progression occurred in a substantial number.