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USPSTF Finds Insufficient Evidence for AF Screening With ECG

August 9, 2018

On August 7, 2018, the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) published a final recommendation statement and evidence summary on screening for atrial fibrillation (AF) with electrocardiography (ECG) in asymptomatic adults. This is the first time that USPSTF has reviewed the evidence on this topic and made a recommendation.

The final recommendation statement concludes that there is insufficient evidence to determine the balance of benefits and harms of screening for AF with ECG in adults aged 65 years and older. This is a Grade I statement.

AF is a major risk factor for stroke and the most common type of cardiac arrhythmia. It affects about 3% of men and 2% of women aged 65 to 69 years, and about 10% of adults aged 85 years and older. AF does not always cause noticeable symptoms; approximately 20% of patients with the condition are first diagnosed at the time of stroke or shortly thereafter. The USPSTF evidence review did find that screening with ECG can detect previously unknown cases of AF, but the evidence did not demonstrate that ECG detected more cases than standard pulse palpation.


US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Issues Final Recommendation Statement on Screening for Atrial Fibrillation With Electrocardiography [news release]. August 7, 2017. Available at: click here. Accessed August 8, 2018.