Atrial fibrillation (AF) and frailty are common, and the prevalence is expected to rise further. We aimed to investigate the prevalence of frailty and the ability of a frailty index (FI) to predict unplanned hospitalizations, stroke, bleeding, and death in patients with AF.
Methods and results
Patients with known AF were enrolled in a prospective cohort study in Switzerland. Information on medical history, lifestyle factors, and clinical measurements were obtained. The primary outcome was unplanned hospitalization; secondary outcomes were all-cause mortality, bleeding, and stroke. The FI was measured using a cumulative deficit approach, constructed according to previously published criteria and divided into three groups (non-frail, pre-frail, and frail). The association between frailty and outcomes was assessed using multivariable-adjusted Cox regression models. Of the 2369 included patients, prevalence of pre-frailty and frailty was 60.7% and 10.6%, respectively. Pre-frailty and frailty were associated with a higher risk of unplanned hospitalizations [adjusted hazard ratio (aHR) 1.82, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.49–2.22; P < 0.001; and aHR 3.59, 95% CI 2.78–4.63, P < 0.001], all-cause mortality (aHR 5.07, 95% CI 2.43–10.59; P < 0.001; and aHR 16.72, 95% CI 7.75–36.05; P < 0.001), and bleeding (aHR 1.53, 95% CI 1.11–2.13; P = 0.01; and aHR 2.46, 95% CI 1.61–3.77; P < 0.001). Frailty, but not pre-frailty, was associated with a higher risk of stroke (aHR 3.29, 95% CI 1.2–8.39; P = 0.01).
Over two-thirds of patients with AF are pre-frail or frail. These patients have a high risk for unplanned hospitalizations and other adverse events. These findings emphasize the need to carefully evaluate these patients. However, whether screening for pre-frailty and frailty and targeted prevention strategies improve outcomes needs to be shown in future studies.
Clinical trial registration
Clinicaltrials.gov identifier number: NCT02105844.