Aims: Atrial fibrillation (AF) is common in heart failure (HF), but few data regarding the prognostic relevance of AF are available in HF patients with preserved left ventricular ejection fraction (HF-PEF). We aimed to study the clinical impact of AF vs. sinus rhythm (SR) in stabilized HF patients with reduced left ventricular ejection fraction (HF-REF) and in those with preserved left ventricular ejection fraction (HF-PEF).
Methods and results: We studied 927 patients with stable HF, of whom 336 (36%) had AF. N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP) concentrations were measured at baseline and patients were followed for 18 months. We compared time to first HF (re-)hospitalization or death between patients with AF and SR. Atrial fibrillation was present at baseline in 215 (35%) patients with HF-REF (mean LVEF 0.25 + 0.08) and in 121 (40%) patients with HF-PEF (mean LVEF 0.50 + 0.09). Plasma NT-proBNP levels were similar in AF and SR patients (median 2398 vs. 2532 pg/mL, P = 0.74). Atrial fibrillation was independently associated with elevated NT-proBNP levels in HF-PEF, but not in HF-REF patients (multivariable B = 0.33, P= 0.047 and B = 0.03; P = 0.89, respectively). After 18 months of follow-up, the presence of AF was an independent predictor of death or HF hospitalization in HF-PEF (multivariable hazard ratio 1.49 (95% CI 1.04-2.14), P = 0.03), but not in HF-REF patients (1.05 (CI 95% 0.80-1.38), P = 0.72).
Conclusion: Atrial fibrillation is equally common in patients with HF-PEF and HF-REF. In HF-PEF, but not in HF-REF patients, AF was associated with higher NT-proBNP levels and was independently related to death or HF hospitalization.