The aim of this study was to establish the prevalence and prognostic implication of progressive supraventricular arrhythmias from frequent supraventricular ectopic complexes, isolated, in bi- or trigeminy, to supraventricular tachycardias with different characteristics. In the STROKESTOP I mass-screening study for atrial fibrillation (AF) in 75- and 76-year olds in Sweden, participants registered 30-second intermittent ECG twice daily for two weeks. The ECG-recordings from STROKESTOP I were re-evaluated using an automated algorithm to detect individuals with frequent supraventricular ectopic complexes or runs. Detected episodes were manually re-examined to confirm the findings. The primary endpoint was AF as ascertained from the national Swedish Patient register. Exploratory secondary endpoints were stroke and death. Median follow-up was 4.2 (interquartile range [IQR] 3.8-4.4) years. Of the examined 6,100 participants, 85% were free of significant supraventricular arrhythmia. In the 894 participants that had arrhythmia, frequent supraventricular ectopic complexes were the most common arrhythmia, n = 709 (11.6%) and irregular supraventricular tachycardias were more common than regular. Individuals with the most AF similar supraventricular tachycardias, irregular and lacking p-waves (termed micro-AF), n = 97 (1.6%) had the highest risk of developing AF (hazard ratio 4.3; 95% confidence interval [CI] 2.7-6.8). They also had increased risk of death (hazard ratio 2.0; CI 1.1-3.8). In conclusion, progression of atrial arrhythmias from supraventricular ectopic complexes to more AF-like episodes is associated with development of AF. Extended screening for AF should be considered in individuals with frequent supraventricular activity, especially in those with supraventricular tachycardias with AF characteristics.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01593553.
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