Background: Atrial fibrillation (AF) is common in patients with end-stage kidney disease (ESKD) on dialysis. Whether pre-ESKD nephrology care associates with AF is uncertain.Methods: We conducted a retrospective cohort study of older US patients (=67 years) with Medicare A&B who initiated dialysis (1996-2013) without a prior diagnosis of AF. Patients were categorized by the duration and number of predialysis nephrology outpatient visits. Patients were followed for 1 year for a new diagnosis of AF. We used multivariable Cox proportional hazards regression while accounting for the competing risks of kidney transplantation and death.Results: We identified 316,067 patients with ESKD initiating dialysis between 1996 and 2013 who had no prior AF diagnosis. In this cohort, 66.9% had any pre-ESKD outpatient nephrology care, with the first outpatient nephrology visit before dialysis initiation occurring at=6 months in 17.9%, 7 to 12 months in 9.4%, and >12 months in 39.6%. Outpatient pre-ESKD nephrology care for=6, 7 to 12, and >12 months versus none yielded adjusted cause-specific hazard ratios (HRs) of 0.87 (95% CI: 0.84-0.89), 0.83 (95% CI: 0.81-0.86), and 0.85 (95% CI: 0.83-0.87) for incident AF, respectively. Further, having 1 to 4 pre-ESKD outpatient nephrology visits, 5 to 9 visits, and=10 visits versus none yielded adjusted cause-specific HRs of 0.89 (95% CI: 0.86-0.91), 0.86 (95% CI: 0.83-0.88), and 0.81 (95% CI: 0.79-0.83), respectively.Conclusions: Having any predialysis nephrology care before initiation of dialysis was associated with slightly lower adjusted rates of incident AF over the first year of dialysis. The optimal timing and intensity of nephrology care to reduce the incidence of AF and other adverse health events requires further study.
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