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Opportunistic detection of atrial fibrillation using blood pressure monitors: a systematic review
  1. Sarah A Kane1,2,
  2. James R Blake1,2,
  3. Frank J McArdle1,2,
  4. Philip Langley2,3 and
  5. Andrew J Sims1,2
  1. 1Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
  2. 2Institute of Cellular Medicine, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
  3. 3School of Engineering, University of Hull, Hull, UK
  1. Correspondence to Sarah A Kane; s.a.kane{at}


Background Atrial fibrillation (AF) affects around 2% of the population and early detection is beneficial, allowing patients to begin potentially life-saving anticoagulant therapies. Blood pressure (BP) monitors may offer an opportunity to screen for AF.

Aim To identify and appraise studies which report the diagnostic accuracy of automated BP monitors used for opportunistic AF detection.

Methods A systematic search was performed of the MEDLINE, MEDLINE In-Process and EMBASE literature databases. Papers were eligible if they described primary studies of the evaluation of a BP device for AF detection, were published in a peer-reviewed journal and reported values for the sensitivity and specificity. Included studies were appraised using the QUADAS-2 tool to assess their risk of bias and applicability to opportunistic AF detection. Values for the sensitivity and specificity of AF detection were extracted from each paper and compared.

Results and Conclusions We identified seven papers evaluating six devices from two manufacturers. Only one study scored low risk in all of the QUADAS-2 domains. All studies reported specificity >85% and 6 reported sensitivity >90%. The studies showed that BP devices with embedded algorithms for detecting arrhythmias show promise as screening tools for AF, comparing favourably with manual pulse palpation. But the studies used different methodologies and many were subject to potential bias. More studies are needed to more precisely define the sensitivity and specificity of opportunistic screening for AF during BP measurement before its clinical utility in the population of interest can be assessed fully.

  • Systematic Review
  • Opportunistic Screening

This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt and build upon this work, for commercial use, provided the original work is properly cited. See:

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