Risk Score May Help Predict Atrial Fibrillation

Score developed based on clinical factors predicts risk over 10 years
By Lisa Cockrell, PhD
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Feb. 27 (HealthDay News) -- A newly developed risk score based on readily available clinical factors can predict an individual's absolute risk of developing atrial fibrillation, allowing high-risk individuals to be targeted for prevention, according to research published in the Feb. 28 issue of The Lancet.

Renate B. Schnabel, M.D., of the Framingham Heart Study in Framingham, Mass., and colleagues evaluated 8,044 clinical examinations from 4,764 study participants (aged 45 to 95 years) performed between 1968 and 1987. Study participants were then followed for a maximum of 10 years.

Using several clinical factors, the investigators developed a clinically significant risk score for developing atrial fibrillation within 10 years. The clinical factors included age, sex, body mass index, systolic blood pressure, hypertension medication, the presence of a clinically significant cardiac murmur and heart failure. The risk score was much higher in individuals over 65 years than in those younger than 65 (27 percent versus 1 percent had more than a 15 percent risk of developing atrial fibrillation in 10 years). Echocardiograph only modestly improved the risk prediction model.

The authors of an accompanying comment state "by evaluating the incremental predictive value of genetic or biological markers beyond the clinical variables in the current model, we should arrive at a better understanding of their relative importance in the development of atrial fibrillation and a better predictive tool."

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