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Symptom clusters among adults with atrial fibrillation have previously been identified but no study has examined the relationship between symptom clusters and outcomes.
The purpose of this study was to identify atrial fibrillation-specific symptom clusters, characterize individuals with each cluster, and determine whether symptom cluster membership is associated with healthcare utilization.
This was a cross-sectional secondary data analysis of 1501 adults from the Vanderbilt Atrial Fibrillation Registry with verified atrial fibrillation. Self-reported symptoms were measured with the University of Toronto Atrial Fibrillation Severity Scale. We used hierarchical cluster analysis (Ward’s method) to identify clusters and dendrograms, pseudo F, and pseudo T-squared to determine the ideal number of clusters. Next, we used regression analysis to examine the association between cluster membership and healthcare utilization.
Males predominated (67%) and the average age was 58.4 years. Two symptom clusters were identified, a Weary cluster (3.7%, n=56, fatigue at rest, shortness of breath at rest, chest pain, and dizziness) and an Exertional cluster (32.7%, n=491, shortness of breath with activity and exercise intolerance). Several sociodemographic and clinical characteristics varied by symptom cluster group membership, including age, gender, atrial fibrillation type, body mass index, comorbidity status, and treatment strategy. Women were more likely to experience either cluster (p<0.001). The Weary cluster was associated with nearly triple the rate of emergency department utilization (incident rate ratio [IRR] 2.8, p<0.001) and twice the rate of hospitalizations (IRR 1.9, p<0.001).
We identified two symptom clusters. The Weary cluster was associated with a significantly increased rate of healthcare utilization.


Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research

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Journal Article

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