OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the relationship between peripheral arterial disease (PAD) and incident atrial fibrillation (AF) and its clinical and pathophysiologic implications on ischemic stroke and all-cause mortality. PATIENTS AND METHODS: We identified all adult patients in the Mayo Clinic Health System without a previous diagnosis of AF undergoing ankle-brachial index (ABI) testing for any indication from January 1, 1996, to June 30, 2018. Retrospective extraction of ABI data and baseline echocardiographic data was performed. The primary outcome of interest was incident AF. The secondary outcomes of interest were incident ischemic stroke and all-cause mortality. RESULTS: A total of 33,734 patients were included in the study. After adjusting for demographic and comorbidity variables, compared with patients who had normal ABI (1.0 to 1.39), there was an increased risk of incident AF in patients with low ABI (<1.0) (adjusted hazard ratio, 1.14; 95% CI, 1.06 to 1.22) and elevated ABI (≥1.4) (adjusted hazard ratio, 1.18; 95% CI, 1.06 to 1.31). The risk was greater in patients with increasing severity of PAD. Patients with abnormal ABIs had an increased risk of ischemic stroke and all-cause mortality. We found that patients with PAD and incident AF have certain baseline echocardiographic abnormalities. CONCLUSION: In this large cohort of ambulatory patients undergoing ABI measurement, patients with PAD were at increased risk for incident AF, ischemic stroke, and mortality. In these high-risk patients with abnormal ABI, particularly severe PAD and cardiac structural abnormalities, routine monitoring for AF and management of cardiovascular risk factors may be warranted.
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