Autonomic trigger patterns and anti-arrhythmic treatment of paroxysmal atrial fibrillation: data from the Euro Heart Survey
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AIMS: To investigate the clinical characteristics, management, and outcome of patients with paroxysmal atrial fibrillation (AF) associated with autonomic triggers. METHODS AND RESULTS: One thousand five hundred and seventeen patients with paroxysmal AF participated in the Euro Heart Survey on AF. We categorized patients according to trigger pattern as reported by the physician: adrenergic (AF associated with exercise, emotion or during daytime only and absence of vagal triggers), vagal (postprandial or night time only, without presence of adrenergic triggers) and mixed (combination of vagal and adrenergic triggers). Vagal AF was found in 91 patients (6%), adrenergic in 229 patients (15%) and mixed in 175 (12%) patients. Underlying heart disease was equally prevalent in the three groups. Among patients with vagal AF, 73% were treated with non-recommended drugs according to the guidelines. In vagal AF, non-recommended treatment was associated with a shift to persistent or permanent AF in 19% of the patients, compared with none in the group receiving recommended treatment (P = 0.06). CONCLUSION: This study is the first to address the issue of autonomic trigger patterns and AF in a large population. Autonomic trigger patterns were seen frequently in paroxysmal AF patients. Autonomic influences should be taken into consideration since non-recommended treatment may result in aggravation of vagal AF.
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