Predictors of atrial fibrillation in ibrutinib-treated CLL patients: A prospective study

Gianluigi Reda, Bruno Fattizzo, Ramona Cassin, Veronica Mattiello, Tatiana Tonella, Diana Giannarelli, Ferdinando Massari, Agostino Cortelezzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Ibrutinib is an oral irreversible inhibitor of Bruton's tyrosine kinase, indicated for the treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukaemia. The drug is generally well tolerated; however, not infrequent side effects are reported, with the major two being bleeding and ibrutinib-related atrial fibrillation. Atrial fibrillation pathogenesis in this setting is not completely clear, and no prospective studies have evaluated the impact of previous cardiologic history and baseline characteristics. Methods: We prospectively performed cardiologic assessment in 43 CLL patients before starting ibrutinib therapy. Cardiologic workup included comorbidity collection and electrocardiographic and echocardiographic baseline evaluation. Results: After a median observation of 8 months, seven patients developed atrial fibrillation (16.3%). Cases developing atrial fibrillation were all elderly males (p = 0.04), and mostly with a history of previous arterial hypertension (p = 0.009). Atrial fibrillation occurrence also correlated with the presence of one or more pre-existent cardiologic comorbidities (p = 0.03), with a higher atrial fibrillation risk score (calculated with comorbidities and cardiologic risk factor evaluation p < 0.001), and with higher left atrial diameter (p = 0.02) and area (p = 0.03) by echocardiography. The occurrence of atrial fibrillation was managed after an integrated cardio-oncologic evaluation: anticoagulation was started in 4 (57.1%) patients and beta-blockers or amiodarone in 5 (71.4%). One patient underwent electric cardioversion and another patient pacemaker positioning to normalise heart rate in order to continue ibrutinib. Conclusion: Our data show that echocardiography is a highly informative and reproducible tool that should be included in pre-treatment workup for patients who are candidates for ibrutinib therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number79
JournalJournal of Hematology and Oncology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jun 11 2018


  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Cardio-oncology
  • Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia
  • Ibrutinib

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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