Clinical Research in Cardiology

, Volume 97, Issue 2, pp 74–82

Long-term prognosis after cardioversion of the first episode of symptomatic atrial fibrillation: a condition believed to be benign revised

  • Torsten Becker
  • Thomas Kleemann
  • Margit Strauss
  • Klaus  Doenges
  • Steffen Schneider
  • Jochen Senges
  • Karlheinz Seidl



We evaluated the prognostic impact of a first episode of symptomatic atrial fibrillation under real life conditions.


Most studies regarding the treatment and long-term outcome of patients with atrial fibrillation mainly refer to patients with recurrent episodes. In contrast, data on the prognostic implications of a first episode of atrial fibrillation are scarce.


Over a follow-up period of 5 years, we analyzed 1053 patients, initially scheduled for cardioversion of symptomatic atrial fibrillation, who were included into the prospective registry ANTIK (Ludwigshafener ANTIKoagulationsstudie).


Of those, 618 patients (59%) were included with a first episode of symptomatic atrial fibrillation whereas 435 patients (41%) presented with recurrent episodes. As a consequence of referral for cardioversion of symptomatic atrial fibrillation, structural heart disease was newly diagnosed in a significantly higher proportion of patients with a first episode (27 vs 13%, OR 2.4, 95% CI 1.7–3.3) and patients with a first episode were more likely to have an EF≤40% (21 vs 15%, OR 1.5, 95% CI 1.1-2.2). After 5 years, the mortality rate for patients with a first episode was higher than for those with recurrent episodes (27 vs 16%, OR 2.0, 95% CI 1.4–2.7). In the multivariate analysis, a first episode also was independently associated with an increased longterm mortality (HR 1.4, 95% CI 1.02–1.98). In contrast to patients with recurrent episodes, a first episode was associated with a significantly higher mortality, when compared to an age-matched control group calculated from mortality tables.


The first episode of symptomatic atrial fibrillation intended for cardioversion serves as a marker for underlying cardiac diseases and is associated with impaired prognosis.

Key words

atrial fibrillation first episode prognosis risk marker 


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Copyright information

© Steinkopff-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Torsten Becker
    • 1
  • Thomas Kleemann
    • 1
  • Margit Strauss
    • 1
  • Klaus  Doenges
    • 1
  • Steffen Schneider
    • 2
  • Jochen Senges
    • 1
  • Karlheinz Seidl
    • 1
  1. 1.Klinikum der Stadt LudwigshafenHerzzentrumLudwigshafenGermany
  2. 2.Stiftung Institut für HerzinfarktforschungLudwigshafenGermany

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