© 2017 The Author(s). Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common sustained arrhythmia and is associated with stroke, cognitive impairment, and cardiovascular death. Some predisposing factors - as aging, diabetes, hypertension - induce and maintain electrophysiological and ultrastructural remodeling that usually includes fibrosis. Interatrial conduction disturbances play a crucial role in the initiation of atrial fibrosis and in its associated complications. The diagnosis of interatrial blocks (IABs) is easy to perform using the surface ECG. IAB is classified as partial when the P wave duration is ≥120ms, and advanced if the P wave also presents a biphasic pattern in II, III and aVF. IAB is very frequent in the elderly and, particularly in the case of the advanced type, is associated with AF, AF recurrences, stroke, and dementia. The anticoagulation in elderly patients at high risk of AF without documented arrhythmias is an open issue but recent data suggest that it might have a role, particularly in elderly patients with structural heart disease, high CHA2DS2VASc (Congestive heart failure/left ventricular dysfunction, Hypertension, Age≥75 [doubled], Diabetes, Stroke [doubled] - Vascular disease, Age 65-74, and Sex category [female]), and advanced IAB. In this debate, we discuss the association of surface ECG IAB, a marker of atrial fibrosis, with AF and stroke. We also present the rationale that justifies further studies regarding anticoagulation in some of these patients.
- Atrial fibrillation
- Interatrial block