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J Am Soc Nephrol. 2011 Feb;22(2):349-57. doi: 10.1681/ASN.2010050459. Epub 2011 Jan 13.

The increasing prevalence of atrial fibrillation among hemodialysis patients.

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Division of Nephrology, Stanford University School of Medicine, 780 Welch Road, Suite 106, Palo Alto, CA 94304, USA.


A half million Americans have ESRD, which puts them at high risk for cardiovascular disease and poor outcomes. Little is known about the epidemiology of atrial fibrillation among patients with ESRD. We analyzed data from annual cohorts (1992 to 2006) of prevalent hemodialysis patients from the United States Renal Data System. In each cohort, we searched 1 year of medical claims for relevant diagnosis codes to determine the prevalence of atrial fibrillation. Among 2.5 million patient observations, 7.7% had atrial fibrillation, with the prevalence increasing 3-fold from 3.5% (1992) to 10.7% (2006). The number of affected patients increased from 3620 to 23,893 (6.6-fold) during this period. Older age, male gender, and several comorbid conditions were associated with increased risk for atrial fibrillation. Compared with otherwise similar Caucasians, the prevalence of atrial fibrillation rates was substantially lower for blacks, Asians, and Native Americans. One-year mortality was twice as high among hemodialysis patients with atrial fibrillation compared with those without (39% versus 19%), and this increased risk was constant during the 15 years of the study. In conclusion, the prevalence of diagnosed atrial fibrillation among patients receiving hemodialysis in the United States is increasing, varies by race, and remains associated with substantially increased mortality. Identifying potentially modifiable risk factors for incident atrial fibrillation requires further investigation.

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