HealthDay News — The incidence of atrial fibrillation (AF) is significantly increased after breast cancer diagnosis, according to a study published in the European Heart Journal.

Avirup Guha, MBBS, MPH, from the Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, and colleagues identified women ages 66 years and older with a new primary diagnosis of breast cancer from 2007 through 2014 from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results-Medicare-linked database. These 85,423 patients were matched to Medicare enrollees without cancer in a 1:1 ratio and were followed for 1 year for a primary outcome of AF.

The researchers found that 11% of the breast cancer patients had an AF diagnosis prior to diagnosis of breast cancer. In a 1-year period after breast cancer diagnosis, 3.9% of patients had a diagnosis of new-onset AF (incidence, 3.3% at one year). In contrast, the incidence of new-onset AF was 1.8% in matched noncancer controls. Breast cancer stage was strongly associated with development of AF, apart from traditional demographic and cardiovascular risk factors (American Joint Committee on Cancer Stage II/III/IV versus I: adjusted hazard ratios, 1.51, 2.63, and 4.21, respectively). Increased 1-year cardiovascular mortality was seen in association with new-onset AF after breast cancer diagnosis (adjusted hazard ratio, 3.00).


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“The 2 most stark findings are that atrial fibrillation after breast cancer diagnosis increases deaths from heart and blood vessel problems, and that cancer severity is a strong risk factor for the development of atrial fibrillation,” Guha said in a statement.

One author disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical and medical device industries.

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