RT Tran, AJ Rankin, AH Abdul-Rahim, GYH Lip, AC Rankin, KR Lees
Journal Issue: 
Volume 46: Issue 2: 2016



A recording of ≥ 30 seconds is required to diagnose paroxysmal atrial fibrillation when using ambulatory ECG monitoring. It is unclear if shorter runs are relevant with regards to stroke risk.

Methods An online survey of cardiologists and stroke physicians was carried out to assess current management of patients with short runs of atrial arrhythmia within Europe.

Results Respondents included 311 clinicians from 32 countries. To diagnose atrial fibrillation, 80% accepted a single 12-lead ECG and 36% accepted a single run of < 30 seconds on ambulatory monitoring. Stroke physicians were twice as likely to accept < 30 seconds of arrhythmia as being diagnostic of atrial fibrillation (OR 2.43, 95% CI 1.19–4.98). They were also more likely to advocate anticoagulation for hypothetical patients with lower risk; OR 1.9 (95% CI 1.0–3.5) for a patient with CHA2DS2-VASc = 2.

Conclusion Short runs of atrial fibrillation create a dilemma for physicians across Europe. Stroke physicians and cardiologists differ in their diagnosis and management of these patients.