To examine the relationship between atrial fibrillation and mortality after stroke, we studied 186 men and 167 women from the Waikato Stroke Registry whose mean age was 75.2 +/- 7.5 years. Twenty-three percent (82 of 353) had atrial fibrillation or flutter on their admission electrocardiogram. This group differed significantly from that with sinus rhythm in three respects: 1) They were older (p less than 0.01); 2) they had more severe current stroke deficit as evidenced by lower limb power (p less than 0.05) and Mini-Mental State Score (p less than 0.001), higher incidence of homonomous hemianopia (p less than 0.05), and lower incidence of lacunar syndrome stroke (p less than 0.001); and 3) they had a significantly higher incidence of cardiomegaly and congestive heart failure (p less than 0.01). Functional outcome was insignificantly better in the group with sinus rhythm. During a mean follow-up period of 18 months, mortality was significantly higher in the group with atrial fibrillation (p = 0.001). Proportional hazards modeling, however, showed that the apparently poorer survival in those patients with atrial fibrillation could be explained by factors other than cardiac rhythm, such as age, Mini-Mental State Score, level of consciousness, and interstitial edema on admission chest radiograph. Thus, atrial fibrillation was not an independent predictor of survival after stroke.
- Copyright © 1991 by American Heart Association