To assess the clinical relevance of a history of atrial fibrillation (AF) in hospitalized patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
We enrolled 696 consecutive patients (mean age 67.4 ± 13.2 years, 69.7% males) admitted for COVID-19 in 13 Italian cardiology centres between 1 March and 9 April 2020. One hundred and six patients (15%) had a history of AF and the median hospitalization length was 14 days (interquartile range 9–24). Patients with a history of AF were older and with a higher burden of cardiovascular risk factors. Compared to patients without AF, they showed a higher rate of in-hospital death (38.7% vs. 20.8%; P < 0.001). History of AF was associated with an increased risk of death after adjustment for clinical confounders related to COVID-19 severity and cardiovascular comorbidities, including history of heart failure (HF) and increased plasma troponin [adjusted hazard ratio (HR): 1.73; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.06–2.84; P = 0.029]. Patients with a history of AF also had more in-hospital clinical events including new-onset AF (36.8% vs. 7.9%; P < 0.001), acute HF (25.3% vs. 6.3%; P < 0.001), and multiorgan failure (13.9% vs. 5.8%; P = 0.010). The association between AF and worse outcome was not modified by previous or concomitant use of anticoagulants or steroid therapy (P for interaction >0.05 for both) and was not related to stroke or bleeding events.
Among hospitalized patients with COVID-19, a history of AF contributes to worse clinical course with a higher mortality and in-hospital events including new-onset AF, acute HF, and multiorgan failure. The mortality risk remains significant after adjustment for variables associated with COVID-19 severity and comorbidities.