Atrial Fibrillation on the Rise in Hemodialysis Patients

Prevalence varies by race and is associated with increased mortality

FRIDAY, Jan. 14 (HealthDay News) -- The prevalence of atrial fibrillation (AF) diagnosed in American patients who receive hemodialysis is rising and is associated with considerably increased mortality, according to research published online Jan. 13 in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

Wolfgang C. Winkelmayer, M.D., of Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues analyzed yearly cohorts from 1992 to 2006 of hemodialysis patients from the United States Renal Data System to determine the prevalence of AF.

The researchers found that of 2,483,199 patient observations, 7.7 percent had AF, and the prevalence of AF increased from 3.5 percent in 1992 to 10.7 percent in 2006. The number of affected patients rose from 3,620 to 23,893 during this time. There was an association between increased risk for AF with older age, male gender, and several comorbid conditions. AF was more prevalent among Caucasians than among blacks, Asians, and Native Americans. Hemodialysis patients with AF had a one-year mortality rate of 39 percent, versus 19 percent in those without AF; this higher risk was constant throughout the study.

"Given the ever-increasing number of patients with ESRD [end stage renal disease] in the United States and elsewhere, greater attention should be paid to identifying potentially modifiable risk factors for AF that may be specific to patients undergoing maintenance hemodialysis," the authors write.

Several authors disclosed ties to pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.

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