Publication Date



The Texas Heart Journal





Publication Date(s)

September 2023





PubMedCentral® Posted Date


PubMedCentral® Full Text Version


Published Open-Access



Atrial fibrillation, cardiac surgical procedures, outcome assessment, health care, risk assessment, thoracic surgery


BACKGROUND: Postoperative atrial fibrillation (POAF) frequently complicates cardiac surgery. Predicting POAF can guide interventions to prevent its onset. This study assessed the incidence, risk factors, and related adverse outcomes of POAF after cardiac surgery.

METHODS: A cohort of 1,606 patients undergoing cardiac surgery at a tertiary referral center was analyzed. Postoperative AF was defined based on the Society of Thoracic Surgeons' criteria: AF/atrial flutter after operating room exit that either lasted longer than 1 hour or required medical or procedural intervention. Risk factors for POAF were evaluated, and the performance of established risk scores (POAF, HATCH, COM-AF, CHA2DS2-VASc, and Society of Thoracic Surgeons risk scores) in predicting POAF was assessed using discrimination (area under the receiver operator characteristics curve) analysis. The association of POAF with secondary outcomes, including length of hospital stay, ventilator time, and discharge to rehabilitation facilities, was evaluated using adjusted linear and logistic regression models.

RESULTS: The incidence of POAF was 32.2% (n = 517). Patients who developed POAF were older, had traditional cardiovascular risk factors and higher Society of Thoracic Surgeons risk scores, and often underwent valve surgery. The POAF risk score demonstrated the highest area under the receiver operator characteristics curve (0.65), but risk scores generally underperformed. Postoperative AF was associated with extended hospital stays, longer ventilator use, and higher likelihood of discharge to rehabilitation facilities (odds ratio, 2.30; 95% CI, 1.73-3.08).

CONCLUSION: This study observed a high incidence of POAF following cardiac surgery and its association with increased morbidity and resource utilization. Accurate POAF prediction remains elusive, emphasizing the need for better risk-prediction methods and tailored interventions to diminish the effect of POAF on patient outcomes.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.