Background: Although prior studies indicate a high prevalence of atrial fibrillation (AF) in patients with pulmonary embolism (PE), the exact prevalence and prognostic impact are unknown.
Methods: We aimed to investigate the prevalence, risk factors and prognostic impact of AF on risk stratification, in-hospital adverse outcomes and mortality in 528 consecutive PE patients enrolled in a single-centre registry between 09/2008 and 09/2017.
Results: Overall, 52 patients (9.8%) had known AF and 57 (10.8%) presented with AF on admission; of those, 34 (59.6%) were newly diagnosed with AF. Compared to patients with no AF, overt hyperthyroidism was associated with newly diagnosed AF (OR 7.89 [2.99–20.86]), whilst cardiovascular risk comorbidities were more frequently observed in patients with known AF. Patients with AF on admission had more comorbidities, presented more frequently with tachycardia and elevated cardiac biomarkers and were hence stratified to higher risk classes. However, AF on admission had no impact on in-hospital adverse outcome (8.3%) and in-hospital mortality (4.5%). In multivariate logistic regression analyses corrected for AF on admission, NT-proBNP and troponin elevation as well as higher risk classes in risk assessment models remained independent predictors of an in-hospital adverse outcome.
Conclusion: Atrial fibrillation is a frequent finding in PE, affecting more than 10% of patients. However, AF was not associated with a higher risk of in-hospital adverse outcomes and did not affect the prognostic performance of risk assessment strategies. Thus, our data support the use of risk stratification tools for patients with acute PE irrespective of the heart rhythm on admission.