A recent paper by doctors at Tufts University’s HCM Center found that transient episodes of atrial fibrillation (AF) are treatable and do not often progress to permanent AF.
This study found that AF was not a frequent cause of death by heart failure or sudden cardiac arrest. However, the researchers identified AF as an important cause of stroke in HCM patients. Therefore, they recommend a low threshold for starting HCM patients on anti-coagulants following an initial AF episode.
Researchers in this study analyzed statistics from 1558 HCM patients, 20% of whom experienced AF. 74% experienced only sporadic episodes, while 26% went on to develop permanent AF.
At the time of publication, 91% of the 277 of the patients included in the sample were still alive and between the ages 49 and 75 years old.
A recent retrospective study published in the Journal of Cardiovascular Electrophysiology found that atrial fibrillation (AF) occurred for the first time in 16 of 30 patients (53%) of patients with implantable devices being followed at the center conducting the study.
Of the patients experiencing AF for the first time, 14 of 16 (88%) of the patients were not aware of having experienced any clinical symptoms. As patients age, AF appears to be a common consequence of HCM. Patients may be caught unaware and unprepared, so monitoring is especially important.