Feature Story | 8-Sep-2022

Study finds connection between COVID-19 and new-onset AFib

New study using the American Heart Association’s COVID-19 Cardiovascular Disease Registry finds 1 in 20 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 develop new-onset atrial fibrillation

American Heart Association

DALLAS, September 8, 2022 — A study in the American Heart Association journal Circulation: Arrhythmia and Electrophysiology finds new-onset atrial fibrillation (AFib) in 1 in 20 patients hospitalized with COVID-19. AFib is a quivering or irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) that can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications. At least 2.7 million Americans are living with AFib.

Using data from the American Heart Association’s COVID-19 Cardiovascular Disease Registry, researchers examined nearly 28,000 patients without a history of AFib who were hospitalized for COVID-19.

In this study, new-onset AFib was strongly associated with increased in-hospital mortality and major adverse cardiovascular events. Of the patients in the study, those who developed new-onset AFib while hospitalized experienced longer hospital stays and greater need for ICU care and intubation and approximately 45% died in the hospital. After multivariable adjustment for in-hospital factors and underlying comorbidities, the findings suggest new-onset atrial fibrillation in patients hospitalized with COVID-19 is a marker of adverse clinical factors.

“In 2001, experts predicted the number of Americans living with AFib would double by 2050 — the situation may be more dire following the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Jonathan Piccini, M.D., M.H.S., FACC, FAHA, FHRS, volunteer chair of the American Heart Association Atrial Fibrillation Systems of Care Advisory Group and cardiac electrophysiologist and associate professor at Duke University Medical Center. “Research suggests AFib is likely to influence more Americans and could put more people at greater risk of stroke and heart failure than previously expected.”

September is AFib Awareness Month, and the American Heart Association offers patient resources and new ways to encourage conversation and progress on managing AFib. Learn more at heart.org/afibmonth22.

Co-authors are Anna G. Rosenblatt, Colby R. Ayers, Anjali Rao, Stacey J. Howell, Nicholas S. Hendren, Ronit H. Zadikany, Joseph E. Ebinger, James D. Daniels, Mark S. Link, James A. de Lemos and Sandeep R. Das. Authors’ disclosures are listed in the manuscript.

The American Heart Association’s suite of registries is funded by multiple industry sponsors. The COVID-19 Cardiovascular Disease Registry is supported, in part, by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

Studies published in the American Heart Association’s scientific journals are peer-reviewed. The statements and conclusions in each manuscript are solely those of the study authors and do not necessarily reflect the Association’s policy or position. The Association makes no representation or guarantee as to their accuracy or reliability. The Association receives funding primarily from individuals; foundations and corporations (including pharmaceutical, device manufacturers and other companies) also make donations and fund specific Association programs and events. The Association has strict policies to prevent these relationships from influencing the science content. Revenues from pharmaceutical and biotech companies, device manufacturers and health insurance providers and the Association’s overall financial information are available here

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About the American Heart Association

The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on heart.orgFacebookTwitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1. 

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