Prevalence and predictors of subclinical atrial fibrillation in hospitalized older adults

Aging (Albany NY). 2021 Jul 1;13(13):17024-17037. doi: 10.18632/aging.203270. Epub 2021 Jul 1.


Subclinical atrial fibrillation (SCAF) is associated with an increased risk of clinical AF, major cardiovascular events and death. Short-term evidence on SCAF in older populations is scarce, especially in the hospital setting. We performed a cross-sectional study on 60 multimorbid older consecutive patients (aged 80+) admitted to an Internal Medicine and Geriatrics Unit for acute medical diseases with no history of AF, in order to investigate prevalence and predictors of SCAF. Portable ECG monitoring was placed on admission and ECG recording lasted for 5 days. Mean age: 85.7±4.9 years. Female prevalence: 58.3%. High burden of comorbidities: 87.9%. All enrolled patients had CHA2DS2-VASc score ≥3. SCAF was detected in 16 patients (26.7%) and 11 patients (18.4%) had at least a SCAF episode lasting 6 minutes or longer. No clinical, laboratory and echocardiographic parameters predicted SCAF. Patients with ≥2004 supraventricular ectopic beats/24h (SVEBs/24h) had a 6-fold higher prevalence of SCAF than patients with <411 SVEBs/24h (p=0.038). Time to first SCAF episode was within 3 days of ECG recording in all enrolled patients. SCAF is highly prevalent in older adults hospitalized for acute diseases. This finding may affect clinical management and prognosis. Our study could foster larger multicenter studies in similar settings.

Keywords: atrial fibrillation; hospitalized; multimorbidity; older.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Atrial Fibrillation / diagnosis
  • Atrial Fibrillation / diagnostic imaging
  • Atrial Fibrillation / epidemiology*
  • Comorbidity
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Echocardiography
  • Electrocardiography
  • Female
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors