High-Sensitivity Estimate of the Incidence of New-Onset Atrial Fibrillation in Critically Ill Patients Academic Article uri icon

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  • To estimate the incidence of new-onset atrial fibrillation in critically ill patients. Design: Prospective cohort. Setting: Medical-surgical ICU. Subjects: Consecutive patients without a history of atrial fibrillation but with atrial fibrillation risk factors. Interventions: Electrocardiogram patch monitor until discharge from hospital or up to 14 days. Measurements and Main Results: A total of 249 participants (median age of 71 yr [interquartile range] 64-78 yr; 35% female) completed the study protocol of which 158 (64%) were admitted to ICU for medical illness, 78 (31%) following noncardiac surgery, and 13 (5%) with trauma. Median Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation II score was 16 (interquartile range, 12-22). Median duration of patch electrocardiogram monitoring, ICU, and hospital lengths of stay were 6 (interquartile range, 3-12), 4 (interquartile range, 2-8), and 11 days (interquartile range, 5-23 d), respectively.Atrial fibrillation ≥ 30 seconds was detected by the patch in 44 participants (17.7%), and three participants (1.2%) had atrial fibrillation detected clinically after patch removal, resulting in an overall atrial fibrillation incidence of 18.9% (95% CI, 14.2-24.3%).Total duration of atrial fibrillation ranged from 53 seconds to the entire monitoring time. The proportion of participants with ≥1 episode(s) of ≥6 minute, ≥1 hour, ≥12 hour and ≥24 hour duration was 14.8%, 13.2%, 7.0%, and 5.3%, respectively. The clinical team recognized only 70% of atrial fibrillation cases that were detected by the electrocardiogram patch. Conclusions: Among patients admitted to an ICU, the incidence of new-onset atrial fibrillation is approximately one in five, although approximately one-third of cases are not recognized by the clinical team.


  • McIntyre, William
  • Belley-Côté, Emilie P
  • Vadakken, Maria E
  • Rai, Anand S
  • Lengyel, Alexandra P
  • Rochwerg, Bram
  • Bhatnagar, Akash K
  • Deif, Bishoy
  • Um, Kevin J
  • Spence, Jessica
  • Connolly, Stuart J
  • Bangdiwala, Shrikant I
  • Rao-Melacini, Purnima
  • Healey, Jeff S
  • Whitlock, Richard P

publication date

  • January 2021