USPSTF: Unclear If Benefits of Screening for Atrial Fibrillation Outweigh Harms

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Seth Landefeld, M.D.  Dr. Landefeld is chairman of the department of medicine and the Spencer chair in medical science leadership at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Medicine. Dr. Landefeld also serves on the board of directors of the American Board of Internal Medicine, the UAB Health System, and the University of Alabama Health Services Foundation

Dr. Landefeld

Seth Landefeld, M.D. 
Dr. Landefeld is chairman of the department of medicine and the Spencer chair in medical science leadership at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Medicine.
Dr. Landefeld also serves on the board of directors of the American Board of Internal Medicine, the UAB Health System, and the University of Alabama Health Services Foundation.

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Would you briefly explain what is meant by atrial fibrillation and whom it primarily affects?

Response: Atrial fibrillation—or AF—is an irregular heartbeat. AF affects nearly 3 million Americans and is a leading cause of stroke. Older age and obesity increase the risk of AF, and the condition also occurs more in men than in women. With an aging society and the growing prevalence of obesity in the U.S., this was an important topic for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force to review.

The Task Force looked at the latest research to see if screening for atrial fibrillation using electrocardiography—or ECG, which is a test that records the activity of someone’s heart—to supplement traditional care is an effective way to diagnose AF and prevent stroke.

We found that more research is needed to determine if screening with ECG can help to identify AF and prevent stroke in adults who are 65 and older and do not have signs or symptoms of the disease.  Continue reading