TUESDAY, Nov. 23, 2021 (HealthDay News) — The incidence of atrial fibrillation (AF) is significantly increased after breast cancer diagnosis, according to a study published online Nov. 14 in the European Heart Journal.

Avirup Guha, M.B.B.S., M.P.H., 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 one year for a primary outcome of AF.

The researchers found that 11 percent of the breast cancer patients had an AF diagnosis prior to diagnosis of breast cancer. In a one-year period after breast cancer diagnosis, 3.9 percent of patients had a diagnosis of new-onset AF (incidence, 3.3 percent at one year). In contrast, the incidence of new-onset AF was 1.8 percent 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 one-year cardiovascular mortality was seen in association with new-onset AF after breast cancer diagnosis (adjusted hazard ratio, 3.00).

“The two 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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