Comorbidity of atrial fibrillation and heart failure

Nat Rev Cardiol. 2016 Mar;13(3):131-47. doi: 10.1038/nrcardio.2015.191. Epub 2015 Dec 10.


Atrial fibrillation (AF) and heart failure (HF) are evolving epidemics, together responsible for substantial human suffering and health-care expenditure. Ageing, improved cardiovascular survival, and epidemiological transition form the basis for their increasing global prevalence. Although we now have a clear picture of how HF promotes AF, gaps remain in our knowledge of how AF exacerbates or even causes HF, and how the development of HF affects the outcome of patients with AF. New data regarding HF with preserved ejection fraction and its unique relationship with AF suggest a possible role for AF in its aetiology, possibly as a trigger for ventricular fibrosis. Deciding on optimal treatment strategies for patients with both AF and HF is increasingly difficult, given that results from trials of pharmacological rhythm control are arguably obsolete in the age of catheter ablation. Restoring sinus rhythm by catheter ablation seems successful in the medium term and improves HF symptoms, functional capacity, and left ventricular function. Long-term studies to examine the effect on rates of stroke and death are ongoing. Guidelines continue to evolve to keep pace with this rapidly changing field.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Atrial Fibrillation* / diagnosis
  • Atrial Fibrillation* / mortality
  • Atrial Fibrillation* / physiopathology
  • Atrial Fibrillation* / therapy
  • Comorbidity
  • Heart Failure* / diagnosis
  • Heart Failure* / mortality
  • Heart Failure* / physiopathology
  • Heart Failure* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Treatment Outcome