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COMPARATIVE STUDY
JOURNAL ARTICLE

Comparable ascertainment of newly-diagnosed atrial fibrillation using active cohort follow-up versus surveillance of centers for medicare and medicaid services in the atherosclerosis risk in communities study

Lindsay G S Bengtson, Anna Kucharska-Newton, Lisa M Wruck, Laura R Loehr, Aaron R Folsom, Lin Y Chen, Wayne D Rosamond, Sue Duval, Pamela L Lutsey, Sally C Stearns, Carla Sueta, Hsin-Chieh Yeh, Ervin Fox, Alvaro Alonso
PloS One 2014, 9 (4): e94321
24727837

OBJECTIVE: Increasingly, epidemiologic studies use administrative data to identify atrial fibrillation (AF). Capture of incident AF is not well documented. We examined incidence rates and concordance of AF diagnosis based on active cohort follow-up versus surveillance of Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services data in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study.

METHODS: Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities cohort participants without prevalent AF enrolled in fee-for-service Medicare, with inpatient and outpatient coverage, for at least 12 continuous months between 1991 and 2009 were included. In active Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study follow-up, annual telephone calls captured hospitalizations and deaths with incident AF diagnosis codes. For Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services data, incident AF was defined by billed inpatient and outpatient diagnoses.

RESULTS: Of 10,134 eligible cohort participants, 738 developed AF according to both Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services data; an additional 93 and 288 incident cases were identified using only Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services data, respectively. Incidence rates per 1,000 person-years were 10.8 (95% confidence interval: 10.1-11.6) and 13.6 (95% confidence interval: 12.8-14.4) in Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, respectively; agreement was 96%; kappa was 0.77 (95% confidence interval: 0.75-0.80). Earlier AF ascertainment by one system versus the other was not associated with any cardiovascular disease risk factors, after accounting for sociodemographic factors. Additional Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services events did not alter observed associations between risk factors and AF.

CONCLUSION: Among fee-for-service enrollees, AF incidence rates were slightly lower for active cohort follow-up than for Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services surveillance, because the latter included outpatient atrial fibrillation. Concordance was high and combining the two approaches could provide a more complete picture of newly-diagnosed AF.

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