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COVID-19 pandemic and trends in clinical outcomes and medication use for patients with established atrial fibrillation: A nationwide analysis of claims data.

Hernandez I, Yang L, Tang S, Cameron T, Guo J, Gabriel N, Essien UR, Magnani JW, Gellad WF. COVID-19 pandemic and trends in clinical outcomes and medication use for patients with established atrial fibrillation: A nationwide analysis of claims data. American heart journal plus : cardiology research and practice. 2024 Jun 1; 42:100396.

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STUDY OBJECTIVE: The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted multiple aspects of the health care system, including the diagnosis and control of chronic conditions. This study aimed to quantify pandemic-related changes in the rates of clinical events among patients with atrial fibrillation (AF). DESIGN/SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: In this retrospective cohort study, we identified individuals with established AF at any time before 2019 using de-identified Optum's Clinformatics® Data Mart, and followed them from 3/18/2019 to death, or disenrollment, or the end of the study (09/30/2021). MAIN OUTCOME: Rates of clinical event, including all-cause hospitalization, ischemic stroke, and bleeding. We constructed interrupted time series to test changes in outcomes after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic (3/11/2020, date of pandemic declaration). We then identified the first month after the start of the pandemic in which outcomes returned to pre-pandemic levels. RESULTS: A total of 561,758 patients, with a mean age of 77 ± 9.9 years, were included in the study. The monthly incidence rate of all-cause hospitalization decreased from 2.8 % in the period immediately before the pandemic declaration to 1.7 % in the period immediately after, with -value for level change < 0.001. The rate of new ischemic stroke diagnoses decreased from 0.28 % in the period immediately before pandemic declaration to 0.20 % in the period immediately after, and the rate of major bleeding diagnoses from 0.81 % to 0.59 %, both -values for level change < 0.01. The incidence rate of ischemic stroke and bleeding events returned to pre-pandemic levels in October and November 2020, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: The COVID-19 pandemic was associated with a decrease in health care visits for ischemic stroke and bleeding in a nationwide cohort of patients with established AF.

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