Objectives: The purpose of this study was to assess the mortality trends of atrial fibrillation (AF) in a community.
Background: Limited data exist regarding the mortality trends of patients diagnosed with first AF.
Methods: A community-based cohort of adult residents of Olmsted County, Minnesota, who had electrocardiogram-confirmed first-documented AF in the years 1980 to 2000 were identified and followed to 2004 or death. The primary outcome was all-cause mortality.
Results: Of a total of 4,618 residents (mean age 73 +/- 14 years) diagnosed with first AF, 3,085 died during a mean follow-up of 5.3 +/- 5.0 years. Relative to the age- and gender-matched general Minnesota population, the mortality risk was increased (p < 0.0001) with a hazard ratio (HR) of 9.62 (95% confidence interval [CI] 8.93 to 10.32) within the first 4 months and 1.66 (95% CI 1.59 to 1.73) thereafter. Cox proportional hazards modeling showed no change in overall age- and gender-adjusted mortality (HR for the year 2000 vs. 1980: 0.99; 95% CI 0.86 to 1.13; p = 0.84), even after adjustment for comorbidities. In secondary analyses, no changes in mortality were seen for early (within first 4 months) or late (after 4 months) mortality for the entire group or within the subgroup of patients who did not have cardiovascular disease at baseline.
Conclusions: In this cohort of patients newly diagnosed with AF, mortality risk was high, especially within the first 4 months. There was no evidence for any significant changes over the 21 years in terms of overall mortality, early or late mortality, or mortality among patients without pre-existing cardiovascular disease.