Background: Patients with atrial high-rate episode (AHRE) are at higher risk of neurological events. This study aimed to identify the optimal cutoff threshold for AHRE duration in patients with dual chamber permanent pacemakers (PPM) without prior atrial fibrillation. Methods: We included 355 consecutive patients receiving dual chamber pacemaker implantation. Primary outcome was composite endpoint of subsequent neurological events after various AHRE durations. AHRE was defined as >175 bpm (MEDTRONIC) or > 200 bpm (BIOTRONIK) for longer than 30 s. Cox regression analysis with time-dependent covariates was conducted. Results: The mean age of included patients was 75.6 ± 11.3 years. Among 355 included patients, some had multiple AHREs; 125 patients (35.2%) developed AHRE ≥2 min, 107 (30.1%) had ≥5 min, 55 (15.5%) had ≥6 h, and 37 (10.4%) had ≥24 h. The mean follow-up was 42.1 ± 31.2 months. During follow-up, 19 neurological events occurred. After adjustment for CHA2DS2-VASc score and device type, multivariate Cox regression analysis indicated AHRE ≥2 min (HR 13.605, 95% CI 3.010–61.498), and AHRE ≥5 min (HR 5.819, 95% CI 2.056–16.470) were significantly associated with neurological events. Hence, the optimal AHRE cutoff value was 2 min with the highest Youden index (sensitivity, 89.5%; specificity, 67.8%; AUC, 0.823, 95% CI, 0.763–0.884; p < 0.001). Conclusions: Patients with dual chamber PPM who develop AHRE have increased risk of neurological events. Comprehensive assessment of the risks and benefits of prescribing anticoagulants should be considered in PPM patients with AHRE ≥2 min.
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