results of the European Heart Rhythm Association survey
Although it is well known that silent atrial fibrillation (AF) is associated with morbidity and mortality rates similar to those of symptomatic AF, no specific strategy for screening and management of this form of AF has been advocated. The purpose of this survey was to identify current practices for the diagnosis and management of silent AF. This survey is based on an electronic questionnaire sent to the European Heart Rhythm Association Research Network partners. Responses were received from 33 centres in 16 countries. The preferred screening methods for silent AF in patients with rhythm control by pharmacological therapy was 12-lead electrocardiogram (ECG) at outpatient visits (31.3%) and periodical 24 h Holter ECG recordings (34.4%), while after pulmonary vein isolation the corresponding figures were 6.3 and 65.6%, respectively. No consensus has been reached concerning the therapeutic approach for such patients. Most responders preferred rate control over rhythm control in patients with silent AF, although some favoured pulmonary vein isolation in young patients. However, oral anticoagulant therapy in patients at high thromboembolic risk was considered mandatory by most, provided that at least one episode of silent AF was documented, without recommending further investigations. The results of this survey have confirmed that there is currently no consensus regarding the screening and management of patients with silent AF and that clinical practice is not always consistent with the few existing evidence-based recommendations.