Patients with cancer have a more than twofold risk of developing atrial fibrillation (AF) compared with the general population, according to a press release regarding data that will be published by the American College of Cardiology’s Annual Scientific Session. Specifically, AF was associated with prostate (3.60%), lung (2.78%), colon (2.27%), breast (3.31%), pancreatic (0.28%), leukemia (0.98%), non-Hodgkin lymphoma (1.18%), Hodgkin lymphoma (0.1%), and thoracic (0.03%) cancers compared with the general population (P=0.001 for all).
Researchers used data from the National Inpatient Sample for more than 143 million adults who visited a U.S. hospital between 2012 and 2015. In this cohort, 10.2% of patients (approximately 14.5 million people) had AF.
Increased AF in cancer population
After adjusting for known cardiovascular risk factors and other heart conditions that could lead to AF, the odds of AF was more than twice what would be expected for those with cancer. Deaths were more likely among patients with AF who had prostate cancer compared with those without AF (3.28 vs. 2.31%). Researchers observed a 50% increased risk for AF in patients with colon, prostate, and lung cancers.
Researchers could not determine whether AF cases were new, chronic, or paroxysmal. They also did not assess which cancer treatments patients received, as some can cause heart damage.
“These cancers may be associated with higher mortality due to circulating pro-coagulants and greater systemic inflammation, but this relationship has yet to be studied,” said lead study author Muhammad Khan, MD, a resident at St. Mary Medical Center in Langhorne, Pennsylvania. “Based on our findings, certain patients should be considered at higher risk of AF and may benefit from cardiac evaluation and appropriate treatments, whether it be with medication or ablative techniques, to help improve the survival rates in the long-term.”