Newly diagnosed atrial fibrillation (AF) patients with no symptoms have a higher rate of previous stroke than those with symptoms, according to results from the GLORIA-AF Registry.

The findings highlight the need for screening to identify AF patients with no symptoms so that stroke prevention treatment can be given.

Presented at the recent European Heart Rhythm Association (EHRA) conference, held in Vienna, Austria, the sub-analysis compared characteristics between symptomatic and asymptomatic patients in Western Europe.

GLORIA-AF (Global Registry on Long-Term Oral Antithrombotic Treatment in Patients with Atrial Fibrillation) is a large, multinational, prospective registry programme involving patients with newly diagnosed non-valvular AF.

Symptom status was defined by the EHRA score: I-II asymptomatic/minimally symptomatic; III-IV symptomatic. A total of 4 119 patients (two-thirds) were asymptomatic/minimally symptomatic and one-third (1,892) were symptomatic at the time of diagnosis.

In terms of medical history, asymptomatic patients were twice as likely to have permanent AF (15.8% versus 8.3%) and more than twice as likely to have had a previous stroke (14.7% versus 6.0%) than patients in the symptomatic group.

The authors concluded that the results underline the urgent need for public programmes to detect AF in the general population.