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Association of follow-up care with long-term death and subsequent hospitalization in patients with atrial fibrillation who receive emergency care in the province of Ontario


Background — Currently, 11% of patients seen in the emergency department for atrial fibrillation die within 1 year of the visit. Our objective was to examine the association of rapid (within 3 days), early (7 days), and basic (30 days) outpatient physician follow-up with short- and long-term outcomes in patients with atrial fibrillation discharged from an emergency department.

Methods — This retrospective cohort study included all adult patients discharged from one of the 163 emergency departments in Ontario, Canada with a primary diagnosis of atrial fibrillation, 2007 to 2014. We used a landmark analysis with propensity score matching, and logistic regression, to assess all-cause mortality and cardiovascular hospitalizations at 1 year and 90 days, 30-day return emergency visits, and 1-year oral anticoagulation prescription fills.

Results — In the 10 657 patients with rapid follow-up care who were propensity score matched to a patient with follow-up between days 4 and 7, the hazard of a return emergency visit was reduced by 11% (HR, 0.89 [95% CI, 0.80–0.98]). It was not associated with mortality or hospitalization. In the 17 234 patients with early follow-up who were matched to a patient with care between days 8 and 30, the rate of 1-year mortality was 11% lower (HR, 0.89 [95% CI, 0.81–0.97]) and 1-year hospitalization was 6% lower (HR, 0.94 [95% CI, 0.89–1.00]). Relative to no 30-day care, basic follow-up care was associated with an increased hazard of 90-day hospitalization (HR, 1.32 [95% CI, 1.12–1.56]) but was no longer associated with mortality. In patients with early follow-up, the odds of filling an oral anticoagulation prescription a year later were 64% higher than those without it (OR, 1.64 [95% CI, 1.54–1.78]).

Conclusions — Compared with follow-up care between days 8 and 30, follow-up within a week after discharge from an emergency department with atrial fibrillation was associated with a reduction in the rate of death and hospitalization within 1 year, an association that was not present with 30-day follow-up.



Atzema CL, Yu B, Schull MJ, Jackevicius CA, Ivers NM, Lee DS, Rochon P, Austin PC. Circ Arrhythm Electrophysiol. 2019; 12(12):e006498. Epub 2019 Dec 16.

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