The impact of atrial fibrillation (AF) on risk of peripheral arterial thromboembolism is unknown.
We analyzed the risk of thromboembolism (embolus and/or thrombosis) in the aorta and the renal, mesenteric, pelvic, and extremity arteries in a cohort of patients discharged from the hospital with an incident diagnosis of AF relative to the risk of thromboembolism in these vessels in the Danish population. In a random sample of half of the Danish population, 14 917 men and 14 945 women aged 50 to 89 years were identified in the Danish National Hospital Discharge Register with a diagnosis of AF from January 1, 1980, through December 31, 1993. Patients were followed up from diagnosis of AF in the Danish National Hospital Discharge Register and the Causes of Death Register until the first diagnosis of a thromboembolic event, death, or the end of 1993. Risk of a thromboembolic event relative to the risk in the Danish population was analyzed by means of Poisson regression modeling.
Patients with a hospital diagnosis of AF had an increased risk of thromboembolic events in the aorta and the renal, mesenteric, pelvic, and extremity arteries (relative risk, 4.0 [95% confidence interval, 3.5-4.6] in men; and relative risk, 5.7 [95% confidence interval, 5.1-6.3] in women) compared with the Danish population.
A hospital diagnosis of AF is an important risk factor for peripheral arterial thromboembolic complications.