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Progression of paroxysmal to persistent atrial fibrillation: 10-year follow-up in the Canadian Registry of Atrial Fibrillation.

BACKGROUND: Progression from paroxysmal to persistent atrial fibrillation (AF) has important clinical implications and is relevant to the management of patients with AF.

OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to define the long-term rate of progression from paroxysmal to persistent AF and the relevant clinical variables.

METHODS: The Canadian Registry of Atrial Fibrillation enrolled patients after a first electrocardiographic diagnosis of paroxysmal AF. Associations between baseline characteristics and clinical outcomes were evaluated using a multivariable Cox proportional hazard model and a competing risk model accounting for death as a competing risk, where appropriate.

RESULTS: We enrolled 755 patients (61.7% men) aged between 14 and 91 years (mean age 61.2 ± 14.2 years). The median follow-up was 6.35 years (interquartile range 2.93-10.04 years), with a rate of progression to persistent AF at 1, 5, and 10 years was 8.6%, 24.3%, and 36.3%, respectively. All-cause mortality was 30.3% at 10 years. Factors associated with AF progression were increasing age (hazard ratio [HR] 1.40; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.23-1.60, for each 10-year increment), mitral regurgitation (HR 1.87; 95% CI 1.28-2.73), left atrial dilatation (HR 3.01; 95% CI 2.03-4.47), aortic stenosis (HR 2.40; 95% CI 1.05-5.48), and left ventricular hypertrophy (HR .47; 95% CI 1.04-2.08). Factors associated with a lower rate of progression were a faster heart rate during AF (HR 0.94; 95% CI 0.92-0.96 per 5-beat/min increment) and angina (HR 0.54; 95% CI 0.38-0.77). After accounting for death as a competing risk, left ventricular hypertrophy and aortic stenosis were no longer significant.

CONCLUSION: Within 10 years of presenting with paroxysmal AF, >50% of patients will progress to persistent AF or be dead. Increasing age, mitral regurgitation, aortic stenosis, left ventricular hypertrophy, and left atrial dilatation were associated with progression to persistent AF.

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