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J Cardiovasc Electrophysiol. 2002 Jan;13(1 Suppl):S17-22.

Mortality and incidence of atrial fibrillation in paced patients.

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  • 1Department of Cardiology, Skejby University Hospital, Aarhus N, Denmark.


This review presents and discusses available data from randomized controlled trials on the prognosis of pacemaker patients, especially the incidences of atrial fibrillation (AF) and death, the impact of pacing mode selection, and the impact of AF on prognosis. The incidence of AF is several times higher in paced patients than in the nonpaced population. The annual incidences of AF and chronic AF are at least 5% and 3%, respectively, after pacemaker implantation. Mean lifetime cumulative incidences of AF and chronic AF can be estimated at approximately 30% to 40% and 20%, respectively. The most important predictors of AF are brady-tachy syndrome, sick sinus syndrome, and selection of VVI(R) pacing mode. The expected lifespan in paced patients is shorter than in the age-matched nonpaced population. One of the factors decreasing lifespan in paced patients most likely is the high incidence and prevalence of AF. In patients with sick sinus syndrome, VVI pacing significantly increases AF and mortality compared with AAI pacing. In a mixed population of patients with bradycardia, DDD(R) pacing causes less often than does VVI(R) pacing. Survival does not differ between these pacing modes within the first 3.5 years after pacemaker implantation. At the present time, AAI(R) should be the preferred pacing mode in patients with sick sinus syndrome, and DDD(R) should be used for other patients without chronic AF for prevention of AF. It is not clear whether prevention of AF will improve survival of paced patients.

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