JOURNAL ARTICLE
OBSERVATIONAL STUDY
RANDOMIZED CONTROLLED TRIAL
RESEARCH SUPPORT, N.I.H., EXTRAMURAL
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Increased Heart Rate Is Associated With Higher Mortality in Patients With Atrial Fibrillation (AF): Results From the Outcomes Registry for Better Informed Treatment of AF (ORBIT-AF).

BACKGROUND: Most patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) require rate control; however, the optimal target heart rate remains under debate. We aimed to assess rate control and subsequent outcomes among patients with permanent AF.

METHODS AND RESULTS: We studied 2812 US outpatients with permanent AF in the Outcomes Registry for Better Informed Treatment of Atrial Fibrillation. Resting heart rate was measured longitudinally and used as a time-dependent covariate in multivariable Cox models of all-cause and cause-specific mortality during a median follow-up of 24 months. At baseline, 7.4% (n=207) had resting heart rate <60 beats per minute (bpm), 62% (n=1755) 60 to 79 bpm, 29% (n=817) 80 to 109 bpm, and 1.2% (n=33) ≥110 bpm. Groups did not differ by age, previous cerebrovascular disease, heart failure status, CHA2DS2-VASc scores, renal function, or left ventricular function. There were significant differences in race (P=0.001), sinus node dysfunction (P=0.004), and treatment with calcium-channel blockers (P=0.006) and anticoagulation (P=0.009). In analyses of continuous heart rates, lower heart rate ≤65 bpm was associated with higher all-cause mortality (adjusted hazard ratio [HR], 1.15 per 5-bpm decrease; 95% CI, 1.01 to 1.32; P=0.04). Similarly, increasing heart rate >65 bpm was associated with higher all-cause mortality (adjusted HR, 1.10 per 5-bpm increase; 95% CI, 1.05 to 1.15; P<0.0001). This relationship was consistent across endpoints and in a broader sensitivity analysis of permanent and nonpermanent AF patients.

CONCLUSIONS: Among patients with permanent AF, there is a J-shaped relationship between heart rate and mortality. These data support current guideline recommendations, and clinical trials are warranted to determine optimal rate control.

CLINICAL TRIAL REGISTRATION: URL: https://clinicaltrials.gov/. Unique identifier: NCT01165710.

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