Introduction. Longitudinal studies on lone AF are rare and the incidence of hypertension in this population unknown. This study aimed at investigating the incidence of arterial hypertension in patients with apparently lone atrial fibrillation (AF).
Methods and Results. Out of 292 consecutive patients presented with permanent or paroxysmal AF, 32 patients were diagnosed as having lone AF according to strict criteria. Three patients were subjected to ablation of the ligament of Marshall, 14 patients to pulmonary vein isolation, and the remainder were treated with beta blockade. Patients were followed-up for a 1–3 year period. During follow-up, 14 patients were diagnosed as having arterial hypertension. Thirteen of them had recurrent AF despite ligament of Marshall ablation (1 patient), pulmonary vein isolation (4 patients) and beta blockade (8 patients). Cox regression analysis revealed that the only significant predictor of development of hypertension was complete or partial response to antiarrhythmic therapy (beta = 3.82, S.E. = 1.22, exp(b) = 45.63, 95% C.I. = 4.17–499.2, p = 0.001), independent of age (beta = −0.01, p = 0.74), sex (beta = −0.91, p = 0.28), left ventricular ejection fraction (beta = 0.06, p = 0.52), left atrial size (beta = 0.58, p = 0.7) and kind of antiarrhythmic therapy (ablation or drug therapy) (beta = 1.36, p = 0.09). In patients with lone AF that did not respond at all to antiarrhythmic therapy, there was a 45.6 times higher risk of diagnosing hypertension during the next 3 years as compared to responders.
Conclusion. Approximately 44% of patients with an initial diagnosis of lone AF may represent occult cases of arterial hypertension. In these patients hypertension may affect AF recurrence and treatment outcomes, regardless of the mode of antiarrhythmic therapy used.