Depression linked to atrial fibrillation diagnosis

Research has shown that patients presenting with depression are more likely to be diagnosed with atrial fibrillation.

Cardiologist treating AF using cathether ablation

Depression is associated with an increased likelihood of atrial fibrillation (AF) diagnosis, according to a study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology (19 November 2018)[1]

The team looked at data from Denmark on 785,254 people who began taking antidepressants between 2000 and 2013, matched to a sample from the general population.

They found a three-fold greater risk of AF during the first month of antidepressant treatment (adjusted hazard ratio [aHR] 3.18; 95% confidence interval [CI] 2.98–3.39). However, the risk was elevated even further in the month before starting treatment, with an aHR of 7.65 (95% CI 7.05–8.30) from 30–15 days before and an aHR of 4.29 (95% CI 3.94–4.67) at 15 days before treatment.

It has previously been suggested that antidepressants could increase the risk of AF.

However, the authors said their results suggested possible confounding by indication. They also noted that AF in patients presenting with depression may be more likely to be detected owing to the additional medical attention.

“Patients treated with antidepressants have a substantially elevated [AF] risk, both in the short term and over more than six months, and our findings suggest a potentially larger impact of the underlying condition than of the treatment,” the researchers wrote.


[1] Fenger-Grøn M, Vestergaard M, Pedersen H et al. Depression, antidepressants and the risk of non-valvular atrial fibrillation: A nationwide Danish matched cohort study. Eur J Prev Cardiol 2018. doi: 10.1177/2047487318811184

Last updated
Clinical Pharmacist, CP, February 2019, Vol 11, No 2;11(2):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2019.20205931

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