Atrial Fibrillation and Heart Failure — Cause or Effect?

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There are emerging epidemics of atrial fibrillation (AF) and heart failure in most developed countries, with a significant health burden. Due to many shared pathophysiological mechanisms, which facilitate the maintenance of each condition, AF and heart failure co-exist in up to 30% of patients. In the circumstance where known structural causes of heart failure (such as myocardial infarction) are absent, patients presenting with both conditions present a unique challenge, particularly as the temporal relationship of each condition can often remain elusive from the clinical history. The question of whether the AF is driving, or significantly contributing to the left ventricular (LV) dysfunction, rather than merely a consequence of heart failure, has become ever more pertinent, especially as catheter ablation now offers a significant advancement over existing rhythm control strategies. This paper will review the inter-related physiological drivers of AF and heart failure before considering the implications from the outcomes of recent clinical trials in patients with AF and heart failure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)967-974
Number of pages8
JournalHeart Lung and Circulation
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Catheter ablation
  • Heart failure
  • Myocardial fibrosis
  • Pathophysiology

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