Atrial fibrosis in non-atrial fibrillation individuals and prediction of atrial fibrillation by use of late gadolinium enhancement magnetic resonance imaging.

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Journal of cardiovascular electrophysiology


atrial fibrillation (AF); atrial fibrosis; cardiovascular imaging; late gadolinium enhancement (LGE); magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)


INTRODUCTION: Besides the traditional concept of atrial fibrillation (AF) perpetuating atrial structural remodeling, there is increasing evidence that atrial fibrosis might precede AF, highlighting the need for better characterization of the fibrotic substrate. We aimed to assess atrial fibrosis by use of late gadolinium enhancement magnetic resonance imaging (LGE-MRI) in non-AF individuals and to identify predisposing risk factors. A second aim was to establish a risk score for the prevalence of AF using atrial fibrosis in addition to established clinical variables.

METHODS AND RESULTS: Non-AF individuals without structural heart disease (n = 91) and matched AF controls (n = 91) underwent MRI for assessment of LGE. According to the established UTAH classification, atrial LGE ≥20% was considered extensive. Mean left atrial (LA) fibrosis in non-AF and AF individuals were 8.8 ± 6.5% and 12.5 ± 5.8%, respectively. Body mass index (BMI) >30 kg/m

CONCLUSION: This study reports unexpectedly high atrial fibrosis in non-AF patients without apparent heart disease, highlighting the concept that structural fibrotic alterations may precede AF onset in a significant proportion of individuals. BMI as a predictor of atrial fibrosis suggests that lifestyle and drug intervention, that is, weight reduction, could positively influence fibrosis development. The derived risk score for AF prevalence provides the basis for prospective studies on AF incidence.

Clinical Institute

Cardiovascular (Heart)

Clinical Institute

Cardiovascular (Heart)




Diagnostic Imaging