Left Atrial Fibrosis and Risk of Cerebrovascular and Cardiovascular Events in Patients With Atrial Fibrillation

J Am Coll Cardiol. 2017 Sep 12;70(11):1311-1321. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2017.07.758.


Background: Severity of left atrial (LA) fibrosis is a strong predictor of atrial fibrillation (AF) ablation success and has been associated with a history of stroke, hypertension, and heart failure (HF). However, it is unclear whether more severe LA fibrosis independently increases the risk of major adverse cardiovascular and cerebrovascular events (MACCE) among those with AF.

Objectives: The goal of this study was to evaluate the occurrence and frequency of MACCE by strata of LA fibrosis severity in patients with AF.

Methods: This was a retrospective cohort study of 1,228 patients with AF who underwent late gadolinium enhancement (LGE)-cardiac magnetic resonance imaging to quantify LA fibrosis severity between January 2007 and June 2015. Patients were stratified according to Utah stage of LA LGE criteria, and observed for the occurrence of MACCE, which included a composite of stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA), myocardial infarction, acute decompensated HF, or cardiovascular death. Disease risk score (DRS) stratification was used to control for between-group differences in baseline characteristics and risk.

Results: During follow-up, 62 strokes or TIAs, 42 myocardial infarctions, 156 HF events, and 38 cardiovascular deaths occurred. In DRS stratified analysis, the hazard ratio comparing patients with stage IV versus stage I LA LGE was 1.67 (95% confidence interval: 1.01 to 2.76) for the composite MACCE outcome. The only individual component of the MACCE outcome to remain significantly associated with advanced LGE following DRS stratification was stroke or TIA (hazard ratio: 3.94; 95% confidence interval: 1.72 to 8.98).

Conclusions: This retrospective analysis demonstrated that more severe LA LGE is associated with increased MACCE risk, driven primarily by increased risk of stroke or TIA.

Keywords: MACCE; arrhythmia; cardiomyopathy; stroke.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Atrial Fibrillation / complications*
  • Atrial Fibrillation / diagnosis
  • Cause of Death / trends
  • Female
  • Fibrosis / complications
  • Fibrosis / diagnosis
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Heart Atria / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Ischemic Attack, Transient / diagnosis
  • Ischemic Attack, Transient / epidemiology
  • Ischemic Attack, Transient / etiology*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Cine / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardial Infarction / diagnosis
  • Myocardial Infarction / epidemiology
  • Myocardial Infarction / etiology*
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Survival Rate / trends
  • Utah / epidemiology