Silent atrial fibrillation in pacemaker early post-implantation period: an unintentionally provoked situation?

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Atrial high-rate episodes (AHREs) compatible with silent AF detected in pacemakers (PM) are related to an increased risk of stroke and silent ischaemic brain lesions (IBL) on CT scan. AHREs soon after PM implantation could be related with the procedure itself and the prognosis might be different.

Methods and results

We analysed the incidence of AHREs >5 min and the presence of silent IBL in 110 patients (56% men, aged 75 ± 9 year-old) with PM and no history of AF, in relation to time from implantation (≤3 months vs. >3 months) and the atrial lead fixation (LF) (active vs. passive). Mean CHADS2 and CHA2DS2VASc scores were 1.9 ± 1.2 and 3.5 ± 1.5, respectively. Time from implantation was ≤3 months in 88 patients (80%). Active LF was used in 55 patients (50%). After 24 ± 9 months, AHREs were present in 40 patients (36.4%). CT-scan showed silent IBL in 26 patients (23.6%). The presence of AHREs at 3 months was more frequent in the patients with recent PM implantation (17% vs. 4.5%, P = 0.09) and significantly related to active LF (OR 5.36, 1.43–20.07; P < 0.05). The presence of silent IBL was related to the detection of AHREs during follow up (OR 3.12, 1.29–7.97; P < 0.05) but not with AHREs at first 3 months (OR 1.58, 0.49–5.05; P = 0.44).


AHREs occur frequently during the first 3 months after PM implantation and could be related with procedure itself and the use of active LF. AHREs in this period might not be related to worse outcomes and should be interpreted cautiously.

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