BUSINESS: By Daniel Webster, dWeb.News Publisher
Salt Lake City, UT — (ReleaseWire) — 11/18/2021 –A new study from Intermountain Healthcare researchers finds that patients with atrial fibrillation, the most common type of heart arrhythmia in adults, are at significantly higher risk to experience serious complications from COVID-19 illness.
The study found that patients with a history of atrial fibrillation who have COVID-19 illness are not only more likely to need hospitalization, ICU and ventilator support, but nearly 62% more likely to suffer a major cardiovascular event, such as a heart failure hospitalization, and 40% more likely to die than individuals who don’t have a history of atrial fibrillation.
“We often think of atrial fibrillation as more of a nuisance arrhythmia that can cause unpleasant symptoms and some negative clinical impacts, but is generally not life-threatening,” said Michael J. Cutler, DO, PhD, the lead investigator of the study and a heart rhythm specialist at the Intermountain Healthcare Heart Institute in Salt Lake City. “However, the findings of our study suggest that patients with atrial fibrillation are at higher risk than the general population for serious complications from COVID-19 illness. “
Atrial fibrillation, which affects more than 12 million Americans, is an irregular and often very rapid heart rhythm abnormality involving the upper chambers of the heart. Atrial fibrillation is characterized by weakness, shortness and palpitations. Atrial fibrillation can increase a person’s chance of having a stroke, heart disease, or other complications related to the heart.
The results of the study by Dr. Cutler, and his collaborators were presented at the American Heart Association’s 2021 Technical Sessions ..
For the study, researchers examined 3,119 Intermountain Healthcare patients who tested positive for COVID between March 2020 and May 2021, and who also had a prior atrial fibrillation diagnosis.
Intermountain researchers discovered that patients with atrial fibrillation had clinically worse outcomes than those without.
Patients with atrial fibrillation who had been previously diagnosed were more likely than others to need hospitalization, ICU care and ventilator support. Additionally, they were 61.5% more likely to suffer a major cardiovascular event (ex. heart failure hospitalization), and 40% more likely to die because of the COVID-19 illness.
These results led Dr. Cutler to conclude that patients suffering from atrial fibrillation need to be aware that they are at higher risk and should take the appropriate precautions, such as getting vaccinated and wearing a mask.
Knowing patients with atrial fibrillation are at high risk for complications and death should also influence how clinicians treat atrial fibrillation patients with COVID-19 illness.
The Intermountain research group includes Dr. Cutler, PhD; Heidi T. May, MSPH; Tami L. Bair, BS, Brian G. Crandall, MD; Jeffrey S. Osborn, MD; Charles Mallender, MD; Joseph B. Muhlestein, MD; Jeffrey L. Anderson, MD; Kirk U Knowlton, MD; and Stacey Knight MStat PhD.
About Intermountain Healthcare
Located in Utah, Idaho, and Nevada, Intermountain Healthcare is a nonprofit system of 25 hospitals, 225 clinics, the Intermountain Medical Group with some 2,700 employed physicians and advanced care practitioners, a health plans division called SelectHealth, Homecare, and other health services. Intermountain’s mission is to make people feel their best. It uses evidence-based best practice to deliver high-quality healthcare at affordable prices. For updates, see https://intermountainhealthcare.org/news.