Design and rationale of the atrial fibrillation occurring transiently with stress (AFOTS) incidence study
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BACKGROUND: Atrial fibrillation (AF) is often detected for the first time in patients hospitalized for medical illness or non-cardiovascular surgery. AF occurring transiently with stress (AFOTS) describes this manifestation of AF, which may either be the result of a non-cardiac stressor, or existing paroxysmal AF that was not previously detected. Current estimates of AFOTS incidence are imprecise: ranging from 1 to 44%, owing to the marked heterogeneity in patient populations, identification and methods used to detect AFOTS. METHODS: The prospective, two-centre epidemiological AFOTS Incidence study will enroll 250 consecutive participants without a history of AF but with at increased risk of AF (Age ≥ 65 or >50 with one risk factor for AF) admitted to intensive care units (ICUs) for medical illness or non-cardiac surgery. Upon admission, participants will wear an ECG patch monitor that will remain in place for 14 days, or until discharge from hospital. Patients' consent to participation is deferred for up to 72 h after admission. The primary endpoint is the incidence of AF lasting ≥30 s. The study is powered to detect an AF incidence of 17% ± 5%. RESULTS: We conducted a vanguard feasibility study, and 55 participants have completed participation. The median duration of monitoring was seven days. AF was detected by the clinical team in 8 participants (14%; 95% Confidence Interval 7-26%). CONCLUSIONS: The AFOTS Incidence study will employ a systematic and highly sensitive protocol for detecting AFOTS in medical illness and non-cardiac surgery ICU patients. This study is feasible and will provide a reliable estimate of the true incidence of AFOTS in this population.
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