Atrial Flutter and Fibrillation Following Lung Transplantation: Incidence, Associations and a Suggested Therapeutic Algorithm

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Background: Atrial arrhythmias are relatively common following lung transplantation and confer considerable perioperative risk, specifically haemodynamic instability, pulmonary congestion, dyspnoea, and can mask other post-transplant complications such as infection or acute rejection. However, for most patients, arrhythmias are limited to the short-term perioperative period. Methods: We present a retrospective case-control analysis of 200 lung transplant recipients and using multivariate regression analysis, document the present incidence, risk factors, and outcomes between the two groups. Results: Twenty-five per cent (25%) of lung transplantation patients developed atrial flutter or fibrillation, most frequently at day 5–7 post lung transplantation, and more commonly present in older recipients and those with underlying chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), but not in those with previously noted structural heart disease, or in those undergoing single rather than double lung transplants. Atrial arrhythmias were associated with increased intensive care unit and overall length of stay, but were not associated with increased risk of in-hospital stroke, or mortality. Based on our experience, we propose a suggested management algorithm for pharmacological and mechanical rate/rhythm control strategies, for anticoagulation, and discuss the appropriate duration of treatment. Conclusions: Atrial arrhythmias are relatively common post lung transplantation. Carefully managed, the associated risk of perioperative morbidity and mortality can be mitigated. Further prospective studies are required to validate these strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
JournalHeart Lung and Circulation
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 22 Nov 2019


  • Arrhythmia
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Lung transplantation
  • Perioperative risk

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