Breast Cancer Coverage from Every Angle

Is Breast Cancer Associated With an Increased Incidence of Atrial Fibrillation?

By: Julia Fiederlein
Posted: Friday, November 19, 2021

According to Avirup Guha, MD, of Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, and colleagues, women who were diagnosed with breast cancer seem to be significantly more likely to develop atrial fibrillation than those without cancer. The results of this data analysis were published in the European Heart Journal.

“There has been a significant increase in the number of women who survive breast cancer, but increased heart and blood vessel problems have become limitations of optimal outcomes,” commented Dr. Guha in a European Society of Cardiology press release. “[Our] 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.”

Using data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER)-Medicare database, the investigators identified 85,423 women who received a new primary diagnosis of breast cancer between 2007 and 2014. They were matched 1:1 to healthy women without breast cancer, and each pair was followed for 1 year.

Of the patients with breast cancer, 11% had atrial fibrillation prior to diagnosis. A total of 3.9% of patients developed new-onset atrial fibrillation within 1 year of breast cancer diagnosis; the highest rates were reported within the first 60 days. The incidence rate of new-onset atrial fibrillation was 1.8% in the population of healthy women. The breast cancer stage seemed to be associated with the development of atrial fibrillation (stage II, III, and IV vs. I: adjusted hazard ratio = 1.51, 2.63, and 4.21, respectively). According to the investigators, new-onset atrial fibrillation after breast cancer diagnosis (adjusted hazard ratio = 3.00) appeared to be associated with an increase in cardiovascular mortality at 1 year.

Disclosure: The study authors reported no conflicts of interest.

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