To provide insights on the antiarrhythmic management of atrial fibrillation among patients enrolled in the Antithrombotic Agents in Atrial Fibrillation (ATA-AF) study, and to assess the adherence of the Italian cardiologists and internists to guidelines recommendations.
Methods and results
The ATA-AF study is a multicenter, observational study with prospective data collection on the management and treatment of patients with atrial fibrillation. From March to July 2010, 6910 patients with atrial fibrillation were recruited in 164 Italian Cardiology (Card) and 196 Internal Medicine (IMed) centers. Permanent atrial fibrillation was diagnosed in 50.8%, persistent atrial fibrillation in 24.4%, paroxysmal in 15.5%, and first-detected atrial fibrillation in 9.3% of the patients. Rhythm control (rhyC) strategy was pursued in 27.5% (39.6% Card vs. 12.9% IMed; P < 0.0001) and rate control (raC) in 51.4% (43.7% Card vs. 60.7% IMed; P < 0.0001); in 21.1% the antiarrhythmic strategy was not defined. Patients assigned to rhyC were younger and with less comorbidities than those assigned to raC. Adjusted multivariable analysis showed that atrial fibrillation type, setting of management, age and site of patient discharge were the most important independent predictors of rhyC assignment. The severity of atrial fibrillation-related symptoms was not associated with rhyC assignment. At discharge, beta-blockers, amiodarone and class 1c antiarrhythmic drugs were the drugs mainly used in the Card centers; and beta-blockers, digitalis, amiodarone and diltiazem/verapamil were used in the IMed centers. Amiodarone was overused in both Card and IMed centers.
In the present study, rhyC was the strategy mainly pursued by cardiologists and raC by internists; treatment strategy assignment and antiarrhythmic therapy often do not agree with the guideline recommendations.