The aims of this study were to determine the incidence and clinical predictors of new-onset and recurrent late postoperative atrial fibrillation (POPAF) in a large cohort of patients who underwent cardiac rehabilitation programs (CRPs) after discharge from surgery units, and the association between late POPAF and cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in the medium term.
The ISYDE and ICAROS registries were two multicenter, prospective studies carried out by the Italian Association for Cardiovascular Prevention, Rehabilitation and Epidemiology (IACPR-GICR), providing clinical information on consecutive patients completing CRP in 165 facilities. Patients following cardiac surgery were considered, with the exclusion of those with persistent POPAF at discharge from the surgery units. A total of 2256 patients following cardiac surgery were enrolled (isolated coronary surgery 62.9%, valve interventions 16%, combined surgery 21.1%).
The mean age of patients was 67 ± 10 years, and the observation period 13 ± 20 days. During CRP, POPAF occurred in 241 (10.7%) patients, with 4.4% new-onset and 6.3% recurrent cases, respectively. In the logistic regression model, valve surgery (P < 0.05), a history of early POPAF (P < 0.001), and the presence of postoperative ventricular arrhythmias (P < 0.05) independently predicted the occurrence of late POPAF. Lack of prescription of cardioprotective drugs was not associated with late POPAF. Late POPAF increased the 1-year risk of cardiovascular events after CRP, mainly episodes of decompensated heart failure.
A high level of suspicion for late POPAF, after discharge from surgery units, should be maintained due to the risk of occurrence, the low antiarrhythmic effect of common cardioprotective drugs and the impact on cardiovascular prognosis.