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Original research article
Screening for atrial fibrillation in hospitalised geriatric patients
  1. Rene Tavernier1,
  2. Michael Wolf1,
  3. Vikas Kataria1,
  4. Tom Phlips1,
  5. Ruben Huys1,
  6. Philippe Taghji1,
  7. Ruan Louw1,
  8. Raf Van Hoeyweghen2,
  9. Yves Vandekerckhove1,
  10. Sébastien Knecht1,
  11. Mattias Duytschaever1,3
  1. 1 Department of Cardiology, AZ Sint Jan Bruges, Brugge, Belgium
  2. 2 Department of Geriatric Medicine, AZ Sint Jan Bruges, Brugge, Belgium
  3. 3 Department of Cardiology, University Hospital Ghent, Ghent, Belgium
  1. Correspondence to Professor Rene Tavernier, Department of Cardiology, AZ Sint Jan Bruges, Ruddershove 10, 8000 Bruges, Belgium; Rene.Tavernier{at}


Objectives To assess whether daily short-term rhythm strip recordings on top of routine clinical care could increase the atrial fibrillation (AF) detection rate in the hospitalised elderly.

Methods A hand-held device storing a bipolar ECG during 1 min was used for daily rhythm recording in hospitalised elderly patients.

Results During 2 months, all patients admitted to the Department of Geriatric Medicine were screened (n=327). Five patients refused to participate in the study and 70 patients were unable to hold the device due to severe mental (n=46) or motor impairment (n=24). In the remaining 252 patients, 1582 recordings were successfully obtained after 1624 attempts with a median acquisition time of 1 min (min 1, max 9, IQR 1–2 min). The rhythm strips were not reliable interpretable due to artefacts in three patients or an implantable cardiac pulse generator in another 28 patients. Detailed clinical information was available in 214/221 patients. Mean age was 84±6 years. On top of 71 (33%) patients with AF identified by routine clinical care (history, n=64 or de novo detected during current hospitalisation, n=7), review of all rhythm strips identified another 28 patients (13%) with AF. All these patients had a CHA2DS2VASc score ≥2. A contraindication for anticoagulation was present in only 8/28 (25%) of identified patients.

Conclusions On top of routine clinical care, daily short-term rhythm strip recordings identified another 13% of elderly hospitalised patients with AF, leading to an overall prevalence of 46% in hospitalised patients. This can have significant therapeutic implications with respect to initiation of anticoagulation.

  • atrial fibrillation
  • screening
  • elderly

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  • Contributors RT is the responsible for the overall content of the study (conception and design of the study, data analysis and interpretation, statistical analysis and drafting of the manuscript). MW was involved in the study design and drafting of the manuscript. VK, TP and PT contributed to data analysis and interpretation. RH was responsible for data collection. RL was involved in data interpretation. RVH contributed to the conception and design of the study. YV was involved in the study design and critically reviewed the manuscript. SK interpreted the data and reviewed the manuscript. MD was involved in study design, data interpretation and reviewing of the manuscript.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Ethics approval Ethical Committee AZ Sint Jan Bruges.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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