Relation of porphyria to atrial fibrillation

Am J Cardiol. 2009 Aug 1;104(3):373-6. doi: 10.1016/j.amjcard.2009.03.043. Epub 2009 Jun 6.


Porphyrias are a group of inherited disorders affecting enzymes in the heme biosynthesis pathway, leading to overproduction and/or accumulation of porphyrin or its precursors. Porphyrias have been associated with autonomic dysfunction, which in turn can develop atrial fibrillation (AF). The purpose of this study was to characterize the prevalence of AF and atrial flutter (AFl) in patients with porphyrias. A single-center retrospective cohort study was designed using data from chart reviews of patients who were admitted to the hospital from January 2000 to June 2008. Fifty-six distinct cases were found with a discharge diagnosis of porphyria including all its subtypes. From the same database, age- and gender-matched controls were identified using computer-generated random numbers. We selected 1 age- and gender-matched control for each case. Electrocardiograms and echocardiograms were reviewed by 2 independent reviewers. Only patients with available 12-lead electrocardiograms that showed AF/AFl were labeled with that diagnosis. All patients with a diagnosis of porphyria were included in the study irrespective of their age. Seven of 56 patients with porphyria met inclusion criteria, yielding a prevalence of AF/AFl of 12.5%. This association was significant (p = 0.028, relative risk 7.45, 95% confidence interval 1.01 to 66.14) compared with the age- and gender-matched control group (2%). In conclusion, our observations suggest that porphyria may be significantly associated with AF/AFl.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Atrial Fibrillation / diagnosis*
  • Atrial Fibrillation / epidemiology*
  • Echocardiography
  • Electrocardiography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Porphyrias / epidemiology*
  • Retrospective Studies