Author + information
- William G. Stevenson, MD, FACC1,∗∗ (, )
- Lynne W. Stevenson, MD, FACC∗∗,
- Holly R. Middlekauff, MD, FACC∗,
- Gregg C. Fonarow, MD, FACC∗,
- Michelle A. Hamilton, MD, FACC∗,
- Mary A. Woo, DScN∗,
- Leslie A. Saxon, MD, FACC∗,
- Paul D. Natterson, MD∗,
- Anthony Steimle, MD∗,
- Julie A. Walden, RN∗ and
- Jan H. Tillisch, MD∗
- ↵1Address for correspondence: Dr. William G. Stevenson, Cardiovascular Division, Brigham and Women's Hospital, 75 Francis Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02115.
Objectives. We attempted to determine whether changes in heart failure therapy since 1989 have altered the prognostic significance of atrial fibrillation.
Background. Atrial fibrillation occurs in 15% to 30% of patients with heart failure. Despite the recognized potential for adverse effects, the impact of atrial fibrillation on prognosis is controversial.
Methods. Two-year survival for 750 consecutive patients discharged from a single hospital after evaluation for heart transplantation from 1985 to 1989 (Group I, n = 359) and from 1990 to April 1993 (Group II, n = 391) was antiarrhythmic drugs and hydralazine vasodilator therapy were routinely allowed. In Group II, amiodarone and angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors were first-like antiarrhythmic and vasodilating drugs.
Results. A history of atrial fibrillation was present in 20% of patients in Group I and 24% of those in Group II. Patients with atrial fibrillation in the two groups had similar clinical and hemodynamic profiles. Among patients with atrial fibrillation, those in Group II had a markedly better 2-year survival (0.66 vs. 0.39, p = 0.001) and sudden death-free survival (0.84 vs. 0.70. p = 0.01) than those in Group I. In each time period, survival was worse for patients with than without atrial fibrillation in Group I (0.39 vs. 0.55, p = 0.002) but not in Group II (0.66 vs. 0.75, p = 0.09).
Conclusions. The prognosis of patients with advanced heart failure and atrial fibrillation is improving. These findings support the practice of avoiding class I antiarrhythmic drugs in this group and may reflect recent beneficial changes in heart failure therapy.
☆ This work was supported in part by The Ahmanson Foundation, Los Angeles. Dr. Fonarow is an Initial Investigator of the American Heart Association, Greater Los Angeles Affiliate. Drs. Steimle and Natterson were supported in part by Training Grant IT.32HL07412-10 from the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.