Background and aim: Published data suggest that patients with cerebral ischaemia and atrial fibrillation (CIAF) have higher inhospital mortality than patients with cerebral ischaemia of arterial origin (CIAO). Data on long term risks are scarce. We compared the long term risks of death and vascular events (VE) between these groups.
Methods: We extended the follow-up of 2473 patients from the Dutch TIA Trial (recruitment March 1986 to March 1989, all treated with aspirin; CIAO) and 186 Dutch participants of the European Atrial Fibrillation Trial (recruitment June 1988 to May 1992, 26% on anticoagulants during the trial; CIAF). Hazard ratios (HRs) for death and VE of CIAF versus CIAO were analysed by means of Cox regression analysis and adjusted for age, sex and several cardiovascular risk factors.
Results: After a mean follow-up of 10.1 years, 1484 patients with CIAO had died and 1336 had suffered at least one VE (377 cardiac, 455 stroke). Mean follow-up of the CIAF patients was 6.8 years; 150 patients had died and 136 had suffered at least one VE (41 cardiac, 63 stroke). Adjusted HRs (CIAF vs CIAO) were 1.46 (95% CI 1.22 to 1.74) for death, 1.49 (1.24 to 1.79) for first VE, 1.94 (1.47 to 2.55) for first stroke and 1.41 (1.01 to 1.96) for first cardiac event. These HRs were essentially the same as those for the duration of the trials.
Conclusion: Our study shows that the long term risk of death or vascular events is 1.5 times higher in patients with CIAF than in those with CIAO, after adjustment for differences between the groups.
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For investigators of the Dutch TIA Trial (neurologists of centres with ⩾50 patients), see appendix in N Engl J Med 1990;325:1260, and for investigators from Dutch centres of the EAFT, see appendix in Lancet 1993;342:1262.
Funding: This study was funded by the Netherlands Heart Foundation (99.160) and the “Hersenstichting Nederland” (10F02.14).
Competing interests: None.
Ethics approval: The ethics committee of the University Medical Centre Utrecht approved the protocol.