OBJECTIVES: Atrial fibrillation (AF) occurs in ~30% of patients undergoing coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) and in 40% of patients after valve surgery. High-sensitivity cardiac troponin T (hsTnT) is a specific and high-sensitivity marker of myocardial injury, while N-terminal proB-type natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP) is an established biomarker for wall remodelling. We investigated whether hsTnT and NT-proBNP levels could be used as valuable biomarkers for AF occurrence after cardiac surgery. METHODS: We included consecutive haemodynamically stable patients undergoing programmed cardiac surgery with cardiopulmonary bypass pump. We determined hsTnT and NT-proBNP levels before and after cardiac surgery and recorded AF development by prolonged electrocardiogram monitoring. RESULTS: We included 100 patients with predominantly aortic valve (n = 42) or ischaemic heart (n = 58) diseases. Twenty-nine patients (29%) developed post-surgical AF. Patients developing AF had a longer hospital stay (P = 0.005). hsTnT levels increased after surgery [P < 0.001], indicating perioperative myocardial injury, with higher presurgery levels in patients who developed AF [P = 0.015] . Body mass index and EuroSCORE risk scale were independently associated with higher hsTnT levels presurgery. On univariate analysis, age (P = 0.048), male sex (P = 0.031), indexed left atrial volume (P = 0.042), β-blockers treatment (P = 0.024), type of surgery (valve surgery vs CABG; P = 0.034), EuroSCORE risk scale (P = 0.025) and higher preoperative hsTnT levels (P = 0.009) were predictors of AF development, but NT-proBNP did not reach statistical significance (P = 0.060). hsTnT levels in blood samples obtained the day after surgery were not associated with post-surgical AF development (P = 0.165). In a multivariate model, only higher hsTnT levels before cardiac surgery ( > 11.87 ng/l) [Odds Ratio, OR; (95% Confidence interval, CI) 4.27 (1.43-12.77), P = 0.009] and male sex [OR 5.10 (1.72-15.13), P = 0.003)] were independently associated with the occurrence of post-surgical AF. CONCLUSION: High presurgical hsTnT levels were independently predictive of patients developing AF after cardiac surgery. hsTnT levels determined post-surgery suggest that cardiac perioperative myocardial injury is not associated with postoperative AF development. NT-proBNP did not reach statistical significance as a biomarker for AF prediction. © The Author 2013. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the European Association for Cardio-Thoracic Surgery. All rights reserved.
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