Atrial fibrillation in elderly patients with implantable loop recorders for unexplained syncope
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BACKGROUND: An implantable loop recorder (ILR) assists in the diagnosis of unexplained syncope and atrial fibrillation (AF). Both become prevalent with age. Limited data exist describing the incidence of AF as the diagnostic rhythm underlying syncope in the elderly. This study aims to report the incidence of AF in older adults with ILRs for unexplained syncope and identify clinical characteristics associated with AF in this population. METHODS: Retrospective observational study on patients with unexplained syncope seen in syncope clinics from two Canadian centers. Participants were ≥65 years old, without a history of AF, and received an ILR for unexplained syncope. Data were collected from patient's clinic charts. Arrhythmia diagnosis was based on ILR electrocardiogram reading during syncope (symptom-rhythm correlation). Fisher's exact test and the Student's t test were used to compare participants with and without AF. RESULTS: In our cohort of 222 patients, 124 were females and 98 were males. Mean age at implant was 80 ± 8 years. Arrhythmia was diagnosed in 98 patients (44.1%). Median time to diagnosis was 18 months. AF was diagnosed in 17 (7.7%) participants. There were fewer males in the AF group than the no AF group (11.8%, 46.8%, p = 0.01). Age, baseline EKG, and prevalence of hypertension, diabetes, stroke, or ischemic heart disease were not statistically different between patients with AF and without AF. CONCLUSIONS: Atrial fibrillation was a common diagnostic rhythm in this cohort of adults, aged 65 and older, with ILRs for unexplained syncope. It was observed more frequently in females.
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