WEDNESDAY, Nov. 10, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) who have diabetes less often perceive AF symptoms, although they are more likely to have cardiac and neurologic comorbidities, according to a study published online Nov. 10 in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Arjola Bano, M.D., Ph.D., from Bern University Hospital in Switzerland, and colleagues examined the association of diabetes with AF phenotype and cardiac and neurological comorbidities for patients with documented AF. Parameters of AF phenotype were primary outcomes, including AF type, AF symptoms, and quality of life. Data were included for 2,411 patients with AF.

The researchers observed no association for diabetes with nonparoxysmal AF. Compared with patients without diabetes, those with diabetes less often perceived AF symptoms (odds ratio, 0.74) but had worse quality of life (ß = −4.54). The likelihood of having cardiac (hypertension, myocardial infarction, and heart failure [odds ratios, 3.04, 1.55, and 1.99, respectively]) and neurological (stroke and cognitive impairment [odds ratios, 1.39 and 1.75, respectively]) comorbidities was increased for patients with diabetes.

“It is remarkable to find that patients with diabetes had a reduced recognition of atrial fibrillation symptoms,” a coauthor said in a statement. “The reduced perception of atrial fibrillation symptoms may result in a delayed diagnosis of atrial fibrillation, and, consequently, more complications such as stroke. Our findings raise the question of whether patients with diabetes should be routinely screened for atrial fibrillation.”

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the biopharmaceutical and medical device industries.

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