HealthDay News — New-onset atrial fibrillation (AF) has been reported in 5.4% of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 across the US, according to a study published in a recent issue of Circulation: Arrhythmia and Electrophysiology.

Anna G. Rosenblatt, MD, from The University of Texas Southwestern in Dallas, and colleagues used data from the American Heart Association COVID-19 Cardiovascular Disease Registry to examine the incidence of and outcomes associated with new-onset AF among 30,999 patients, across 120 US institutions, who were hospitalized with COVID-19 (27,851 had no history of AF). The association of new-onset AF with primary and secondary outcomes of in-hospital mortality and major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE; cardiovascular death, myocardial infarction, stroke, cardiogenic shock, and heart failure) was examined.

The researchers found that during the index hospitalization, 1517 patients (5.4%) developed new-onset AF, which was associated with increased rates of death (45.2 vs 11.9%) and MACE (23.8 vs 6.5%). For patients with new-onset AF vs without, the unadjusted hazard ratios (HRs) were 1.99 (95% CI, 1.81 to 2.18) and 2.23 (95% CI, 1.98 to 2.53) for mortality and MACE, respectively. The association with death was fully attenuated (HR, 1.10; 95% CI, 0.99 to 1.23) and the association with MACE was partially attenuated (HR, 1.31; 95% CI, 1.14 to 1.50) after adjustment for demographics, clinical comorbidities, and severity of disease.

“Taken together, these findings suggest AF in COVID-19 is primarily a marker of both disease severity and underlying preexisting medical comorbidities,” the authors write.

One author disclosed financial ties to the biopharmaceutical industry.

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