Preoperative levels of natriuretic peptides and the incidence of postoperative atrial fibrillation after noncardiac surgery: a prospective cohort study

CMAJ. 2020 Dec 7;192(49):E1715-E1722. doi: 10.1503/cmaj.200840.


Background: Postoperative atrial fibrillation (POAF) is associated with clinically significant short- and long-term complications after noncardiac surgery. Our aim was to describe the incidence of clinically important POAF after noncardiac surgery and establish the prognostic value of N-terminal pro-brain-type natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP) in this context.

Methods: The Vascular events In noncardiac Surgery patIents cOhort evaluatioN (VISION) Study was a prospective cohort study involving patients aged 45 years and older who had inpatient noncardiac surgery that was performed between August 2007 and November 2013. We determined 30-day incidence of clinically important POAF (i.e., resulting in angina, congestive heart failure, symptomatic hypotension or requiring treatment) using logistic regression models to analyze the association between preoperative NT-proBNP and POAF.

Results: In 37 664 patients with no history of atrial fibrillation, we found that the incidence of POAF was 1.0% (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.9%-1.1%; 369 events); 3.2% (95% CI 2.3%-4.4%) in patients undergoing major thoracic surgery, 1.3% (95% CI 1.2%-1.5%) in patients undergoing major nonthoracic surgery and 0.2% (95% CI 0.1%-0.3%) in patients undergoing low-risk surgery. In a subgroup of 9789 patients with preoperative NT-proBNP measurements, the biomarker improved the prediction of POAF risk over conventional prognostic factors (likelihood ratio test p < 0.001; fraction of new information from NT-proBNP was 16%). Compared with a reference NT-proBNP measurement set at 100 ng/L, adjusted odds ratios for the occurrence of POAF were 1.31 (95% CI 1.15-1.49) at 200 ng/L, 2.07 (95% CI 1.27-3.36) at 1500 ng/L and 2.39 (95% CI 1.26-4.51) at 3000 ng/L.

Interpretation: We determined that the incidence of clinically important POAF after noncardiac surgery was 1.0%. We also found that preoperative NT-proBNP levels were associated with POAF independent of established prognostic factors. Trial registration:, no. NCT00512109.

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