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J Am Coll Cardiol. 2009 May 5;53(18):1690-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2009.01.055.

Atrial fibrillation and heart failure in cardiology practice: reciprocal impact and combined management from the perspective of atrial fibrillation: results of the Euro Heart Survey on atrial fibrillation.

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Department of Cardiology, University Hospital Maastricht, Maastricht, The Netherlands.



Our aim was to identify shortcomings in the management of patients with both atrial fibrillation (AF) and heart failure (HF).


AF and HF often coincide in cardiology practice, and they are known to worsen each other's prognosis, but little is known about the quality of care of this combination.


In the observational Euro Heart Survey on AF, 5,333 AF patients were enrolled in 182 centers across 35 European Society of Cardiology member countries in 2003 and 2004. A follow-up survey was performed after 1 year.


At baseline, 1,816 patients (34%) had HF. Recommended therapy for HF with left ventricular systolic dysfunction (LVSD) with a beta-blocker and either an angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor (ACEI) or angiotensin II receptor blocker was prescribed in 40% of HF patients, while 29% received the recommended drug therapy for both LVSD-HF and AF, consisting of the combination of a beta-blocker, either ACEI or angiotensin II receptor blocker, and oral anticoagulation. Rate control was insufficient with 40% of all HF patients with permanent AF having a heart rate < or =80 beats/min. In the total cohort, HF patients had a higher risk for mortality (9.5% vs. 3.3%; p < 0.001), (progression of) HF (24.8% vs. 5.0%; p < 0.001), and AF progression (35% vs. 19%; p < 0.001) during 1-year follow-up. Of all recommended drugs for AF and LVSD-HF, only ACEI prescription was associated with improved survival during 1-year follow-up (odds ratio: 0.51 [95% confidence interval: 0.31 to 0.85]; p = 0.011).


The prescription rate of guideline-recommended drug therapy for AF and LVSD-HF is low. Randomized controlled trials targeting this highly prevalent subgroup with AF and HF are warranted.

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