Background: Atrial fibrillation (AF) is prevalent and has a high cost burden. Among the main drivers of cost is inpatient care; however, little is known about patterns of hospital readmissions for AF. Objective: To evaluate the incidence and temporal pattern of readmission in AF patients. Methods: This retrospective, cohort analysis used claims data from the Integrated Healthcare Information Systems National Managed Care Benchmark Database for 2002-2006. Patients hospitalized for AF (primary discharge diagnosis) were identified. Data on the first readmission for AF over 1 year following an index hospitalization were analyzed for chronic AF (any AF-related claims in 1 year before index hospitalization) and newly-diagnosed AF patients (no prior AF-related claims). Results: Overall, 4174 patients hospitalized with primary AF were identified; 1637 had chronic AF and 2537 newly-diagnosed AF. Mean age of chronic AF patients was 62.4 years and 61.2% were male; for newly-diagnosed AF, mean age was 61.4 years and 57.8% were male. In the year following index hospitalization, 12.5% of chronic AF patients were readmitted for AF, with a mean time to readmission of 142.5 days (median 108 days). Among newly-diagnosed AF patients, 10.1% were readmitted for AF, with a mean time to readmission of 133.8 days (median 112 days). For chronic AF, 17.6%, 43.4%, and 65.8% of readmissions occurred within 1, 3, and 6 months, respectively, versus 22.7%, 44.5%, and 67.2%, respectively, for newly-diagnosed AF. Limitations: Limited data were available on patients' clinical profile, treatment patterns, or the reasons for hospitalization/ readmission. The term chronic AF only captured patients with a history of AF and data were not available to classify patients according to the presence of paroxysmal, permanent, or persistent AF. Conclusions: Patients with newly-diagnosed or chronic AF are often readmitted in the year following hospitalization with most readmissions occurring within 6 months of the index hospitalization.
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