Background: Atrial fibrillation (AF) induces loss of atrial contribution, heart rate irregularity, and fast ventricular rate.
Objectives: The objectives of the study were to accurately measure AF incidence and to investigate the mutual temporal patterns of AF and heart failure (HF) in patients indicated to cardiac resynchronization therapy.
Methods: Four hundred ten consecutive patients (70% male, age 69 +/- 11) with advanced HF (NYHA = 3.0 +/- 0.6), low ejection fraction (EF = 27 +/- 9%), and ventricular conduction delay (QRS = 165 +/- 29 ms) received a biventricular pacemaker. Enrolled patients were divided into two groups: G1 = 249 patients with no AF history, G2 = 161 patients with history of paroxysmal/persistent AF.
Results: In a median follow-up of 13 months, AF episodes longer than 5 minutes occurred in 105 of 249 (42.2%) G1 patients and 76 of 161 (47.2%) G2 patients, while AF episodes longer than one day occurred in 14 of 249 (5.6%) G1 patients and in 36 of 161 (22.4%) G2 patients. Device diagnostics monitored daily values of patient activity, night heart rate (NHR), and heart rate variability (HRV). Comparing 30-day periods before AF onset and during persistent AF, significant (P < 0.0001) changes were observed in patient activity, which decreased from 221 +/- 13 to 162 +/- 12 minutes, and in NHR, which increased from 68 +/- 3 to 94 +/- 7 bpm. HRV significantly decreased (from 75 +/- 5 ms before AF onset to 60 +/- 6 ms after AF termination). NHR during AF was significantly (P < 0.01) and inversely correlated (R(2)= 0.73) with activity, with a significant lower activity associated with NHR >or= 88 bpm.
Conclusion: AF is frequent in HF patients. Persistent AF is associated with statistically significant decrease in patient activity and HRV and NHR increase.