Experts advise screening for asymptomatic AF

The value of community screening programs to detect asymptomatic atrial fibrillation is highlighted in a large cohort study led by Australian researchers.

The study revealed that taking the anticoagulant warfarin almost completely reversed the risk of stroke in those with asymptomatic atrial fibrillation (AF). Conversely, aspirin was of little benefit, the researchers found.

“Incidentally discovered AF is usually not associated with palpitations, and resting heart rate is not elevated, which may explain why stroke is an unfortunate first manifestation of AF,” the Sydney University researchers wrote in Thrombosis and Haemostasis.

“Because AF-related strokes are largely preventable by oral anticoagulants, screening for asymptomatic AF is an attractive approach to reduce stroke burden.