Original Study| Volume 21, ISSUE 9, P1238-1242, September 2020

Atrial Fibrillation in Older Patients with Syncope and Dementia: Insights from the Syncope and Dementia Registry



      To evaluate the clinical characteristics and the long-term outcome of atrial fibrillation (AF) patients with dementia and history of syncope or falls.


      Observational: analysis of a prospective registry.

      Setting and Participants

      Between 2012 and 2016, the Syncope and Dementia Registry enrolled patients in 12 geriatric departments. Follow-up evaluation was at 12 months.


      Clinical, functional, and cognitive assessment.


      Of the 522 patients (women, 62.1%; Mini-Mental State Examination 17 ± 6), 26.4% have or presented an AF history. Patients with AF were older (85 ± 6 vs 83 ± 6 years, P = .012), with higher heart rate (78 ± 17 vs. 73 ± 14 bpm, P < .001), prescribed drugs (6.9 ± 2.9 vs 5.9 ± 2.7, P < .001), and an increased number (3.9 ± 2.0 vs 3.0 ± 1.8, P < .001) and severity of comorbidities. Oral anticoagulant therapy was underprescribed (39.9%). Cardiac syncope was more frequently diagnosed (18.8 vs 4.9%, P < .001). At multivariate analysis, AF patients were characterized by advanced age, a higher severity of comorbidities, a greater number of prescribed drugs, an increased heart rate, and a more frequent presence of cardiac symptoms. One-year mortality differed little between patients with and without AF (27.7 vs 22.1%, P = .229). In the arrhythmia group, multivariate predictors of prognosis were disability (number of lost BADLs; P = .020) and a higher heart rate (P = .006).

      Conclusions and Implications

      AF and postural stability-related issues often co-exist in persons with dementia. This complex of conditions is associated with an intricate clinical picture, underprescription of oral anticoagulants, and high long-term mortality. Future studies are needed to evaluate the effects of therapy optimization in this population.


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