Associations of Atrial Fibrillation After Noncardiac Surgery With Stroke, Subsequent Arrhythmia, and Death A Cohort Study

Konstantinos C. Siontis, Bernard J. Gersh, Susan A. Weston, Ruoxiang Jiang, Véronique L. Roger, Peter A. Noseworthy, Alanna M. Chamberlain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Postoperative atrial fibrillation (AF) after noncardiac surgery confers increased risks for ischemic stroke and transient ischemic attack (TIA). How outcomes for postoperative AF after noncardiac surgery compare with those for AF occurring outside of the operative setting is unknown. Objective: To compare the risks for ischemic stroke or TIA and other outcomes in patients with postoperative AF versus those with incident AF not associated with surgery. Design: Cohort study. Setting: Olmsted County, Minnesota. Participants: Patients with incident AF between 2000 and 2013. Measurements: Patients were categorized as having AF occurring within 30 days of a noncardiac surgery (postoperative AF) or having AF unrelated to surgery (nonoperative AF). Results: Of 4231 patients with incident AF, 550 (13%) had postoperative AF as their first-ever documented AF presentation. Over a mean follow-up of 6.3 years, 486 patients had an ischemic stroke or TIA and 2462 had subsequent AF; a total of 2565 deaths occurred. The risk for stroke or TIA was similar between those with postoperative AF and nonoperative AF (absolute risk difference [ARD] at 5 years, 0.1% [95% CI, -2.9% to 3.1%]; hazard ratio [HR], 1.01 [CI, 0.77 to 1.32]). A lower risk for subsequent AF was seen for patients with postoperative AF (ARD at 5 years, -13.4% [CI, -17.8% to -9.0%]; HR, 0.68 [CI, 0.60 to 0.77]). Finally, no difference was seen for cardiovascular death or all-cause death between patients with postoperative AF and nonoperative AF. Limitation: The population consisted predominantly of White patients; caution should be used when extrapolating the results to more racially diverse populations. Conclusion: Postoperative AF after noncardiac surgery is associated with similar risk for thromboembolism compared with nonoperative AF. Our findings have potentially important implications for the early postsurgical and subsequent management of postoperative AF.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1065-1072
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of internal medicine
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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