New-onset atrial fibrillation: incidence, characteristics, and related events following a national COVID-19 lockdown of 5.6 million people
Diagnosis; Prognosis, Prevalence
Aim: To determine the incidence, patient characteristics, and related events associated with new-onset atrial fibrillation (AF) during a national COVID-19 lockdown.
Methods and results: Using nationwide Danish registries, we included all patients, aged 18-90 years, receiving a new-onset AF diagnosis during the first 3 months of 2019 and 2020. The main comparison was between patients diagnosed during lockdown (12 March 12-1 April 2020) and patients diagnosed in the corresponding period 1 year previously. We found a lower incidence of new-onset AF during the 3 weeks of lockdown compared with the corresponding weeks in 2019 [incidence rate ratios with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for the 3 weeks: 0.66 (0.56-0.78), 0.53 (0.45-0.64), and 0.41 (0.34-0.50)]. There was a 47% drop in total numbers (562 vs. 1053). Patients diagnosed during lockdown were younger and with a lower CHA2DS2-VASc score, while history of cancer, heart failure, and vascular disease were more prevalent. During lockdown, 30 (5.3%) patients with new-onset AF suffered an ischaemic stroke and 15 (2.7%) died, compared with 45 (4.3%) and 14 (1.3%) patients during the corresponding 2019 period, respectively. The adjusted odds ratio of a related event (ischaemic stroke or all-cause death) during lock-down compared with the corresponding weeks was 1.41 (95% CI 0.93-2.12).
Conclusions: Following a national lockdown in Denmark, a 47% drop in registered new-onset AF cases was observed. In the event of prolonged or subsequent lockdowns, the risk of undiagnosed AF patients developing complications could potentially translate into poorer outcomes in patients with AF during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Anders Holt, Gunnar H Gislason, Morten Schou, Bochra Zareini, Tor Biering-Sørensen, Matthew Phelps, Kristian Kragholm, Charlotte Andersson, Emil L Fosbøl, Morten Lock Hansen, Thomas A Gerds, Lars Køber, Christian Torp-Pedersen, Morten Lamberts
European Heart Journal