EARLY: A pilot study on early diagnosis of atrial fibrillation in a primary healthcare centre

Luisa Benito, Blanca Coll-Vinent, Eva Gómez, David Martí, Joan Mitjavila, Ferran Torres, Òscar Miró, Antoni Sisó, Lluís Mont*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Aim: Atrial fibrillation (AF) is associated with high morbidity and mortality. Early diagnosis is likely to improve therapy and prognosis. The study objective was to evaluate the usefulness of a programme for early diagnosis of AF in patients from an urban primary care centre. Methods and results: Participants were recruited from a randomized sample of patients not diagnosed with AF but having relevant risk factors: age ≥ 65 years, ischaemic and/or valvular heart disease, congestive heart failure, hypertension, and/or diabetes. Patients were randomly assigned to the intervention group (IG) or control group (CG). The intervention included (i) initial visit with clinical history, electrocardiogram, and instruction about pulse palpation and warning signs and (ii) electrocardiogram every 6 months during a 2-year follow-up. The main endpoint of the study was the proportion of new cases diagnosed at 6 months. Secondary endpoints were number of new AF diagnoses and complications associated with the arrhythmia in both groups. A total of 928 patients were included (463 IG and 465 CG). At 6 months, AF was diagnosed in 8 IG patients and 1 CG patient (1.7 vs. 0.2%, respectively, P = 0.018). After 2 years of follow-up, 11 IG patients and 6 CG patients had newly diagnosed AF (2.5 vs. 1.3%, respectively, P = 0.132). Time to first diagnosis of AF was shorter in IG patients [median (inter-quartile range): 7 (192) days vs. 227 (188.5) days in CG, P = 0.029]. Conclusion: The simple screening proposed could be useful for the early detection of AF in primary care.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1688-1693
Number of pages6
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 28 Sep 2015


  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Early diagnosis
  • Primary health care


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