How does the presence of atrial fibrillation (Afib) (AF) in the setting of acute myocardial infarction affect the patient’s prognosis?

Updated: Nov 18, 2019
  • Author: Lawrence Rosenthal, MD, PhD, FACC, FHRS; Chief Editor: Jeffrey N Rottman, MD  more...
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Answer

AF is a common finding in patients presenting with an acute myocardial infarction. A meta-analysis pooled data from 43 studies and more than 278,800 patients. [46] The study found that AF in the setting of acute myocardial infarction was associated with 40% increase in mortality compared to patients in sinus rhythm with acute myocardial infarction. The causes of death were unclear, but may be related to triple anticoagulation therapy with aspirin, clopidogrel, and warfarin, or may be related to hemodynamic consequences associated with the loss of atrial contraction. Whether AF is a complication of myocardial infarction or a marker for myocardial infarction severity is unclear.

A study by van Diepen et al suggests that patients with heart failure or atrial fibrillation have a significantly higher risk of noncardiac postoperative mortality than patients with coronary artery disease; thus, patients and physicians should consider this risk, even if a minor procedure is planned. [47]


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