ABSTRACT Objectives: To evaluate the prevalence and the risk factors of new onset atrial fibrillation (AF) in a single medical ICU. Methods: A prospective observational study was conducted in a 10 bed single medical ICU over a period of 18 months. All patients with sinus rhythm admitted in the medical ICU were included. Those presenting with any arrhythmia on admission, having a PACEMAKER or having undergone a recent cardiothoracic surgery were excluded. Results: Of the 377 patients included on the study, atrial fibrillation occurred in 26 patients (7%). Patients who developed AF were older, had higher severity scores on admission, and required significantly more fluids, catecholamine, and mechanical ventilation. They had a longer ICU and hospital LOS. ICU mortality was significantly higher in AF patients. Five inde- pendent risk factors of AF were identified by multivariate analysis: advanced age, the presence of COPD, sepsis, car- diogenic shock, and hypoxemia. Conclusion: AF occurs in approximately 7% of medical critically ill patients and is associated with age, a history of COPD, the presence of sepsis, cardiogenic shock and hypoxemia. AF occurs in more critically ill patients and is associated with increased morbidity and mortality.
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