Prognostic Value of Subclinical Coronary Artery Disease in Atrial Fibrillation Patients Identified by Coronary Computed Tomography Angiography

Am J Cardiol. 2020 Jul 1:126:16-22. doi: 10.1016/j.amjcard.2020.03.050. Epub 2020 Apr 7.


Identifying coronary artery disease (CAD) in atrial fibrillation (AF) patients improves risk stratification and defines clinical management. However, the value of screening for subclinical CAD with cardiac CT in AF patients is unknown. Between 2011 and 2015, 94 consecutive patients without known or suspected CAD (66 (57-73) years, 68% male), who were referred for AF evaluation, underwent a noncontrast-enhanced coronary calcium scan and a coronary computed tomography angiography (CCTA) at our center. We retrospectively evaluated the coronary calcium score, the prevalence of obstructive CAD (≥50% stenosis) determined by CCTA, compared clinical management and 5-year outcome in patients with and without obstructive CAD on CCTA, and examined the potential impact of a coronary calcium score and obstructive CAD on CCTA as a manifestation of vascular disease on the CHA2Ds2VASc score and for the cardiovascular risk stratification of AF patients. The median coronary calcium score was 57 (0-275) and 24 patients (26%) had obstructive CAD on CCTA. At baseline, patients with obstructive CAD more often used statins than those without obstructive CAD (54% vs 26%, p = 0.011). After a median clinical follow-up of 2.4 (0.5-4.5) years, patients with obstructive CAD more frequently used oral anticoagulant and/or antiplatelet drugs, statins, angiotensin-II-receptor blockers and/or angiotensin-converting-enzyme inhibitors, and less often used class I antiarrhythmic drugs than patients without obstructive CAD (all p <0.050). After a median follow-up of 5.7 (4.8-6.8) years, mortality was higher in patients with obstructive CAD than in those without obstructive CAD (29% vs 11%, log-rank test: p = 0.034). Implementation of a coronary calcium score and/or obstructive CAD on CCTA elevated the CHA2Ds2VASc score and cardiovascular risk stratification in 42 patients (p <0.001) and 47 patients (p = 0.006), respectively. In conclusion, we observed a high prevalence of obstructive CAD on CCTA in AF patients without known or suspected CAD. AF patients with obstructive CAD were managed differently and had a worse prognosis than those without obstructive CAD. Cardiac CT could enhance cardiovascular risk stratification of AF patients.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Angiotensin Receptor Antagonists / therapeutic use
  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Anticoagulants / therapeutic use
  • Atrial Fibrillation / epidemiology*
  • Atrial Fibrillation / therapy
  • Computed Tomography Angiography*
  • Coronary Angiography / methods*
  • Coronary Artery Disease / diagnostic imaging
  • Coronary Artery Disease / mortality*
  • Coronary Artery Disease / therapy
  • Coronary Stenosis / diagnostic imaging
  • Coronary Stenosis / mortality*
  • Coronary Stenosis / therapy
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Platelet Aggregation Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment*
  • Vascular Calcification / diagnostic imaging*
  • Vascular Calcification / mortality
  • Vascular Calcification / therapy


  • Angiotensin Receptor Antagonists
  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Anticoagulants
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors
  • Platelet Aggregation Inhibitors