Atrial fibrillation associated with increased risk of death and cardiovascular events in women

May 24, 2011

Researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) have found that among women who are mostly healthy, those diagnosed with atrial fibrillation have an increased risk of death when compared to women without atrial fibrillation. These findings are published in the May 25, 2011 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

"We knew that atrial fibrillation was associated with an increase risk of death in most cases, but in this study we found that even in a population of women who were mostly healthy and did not have established cardiovascular disease, the diagnosis of atrial fibrillation increased the incidence of death by about 2 fold," said Christine Albert, MD, a cardiac electrophysiologist at BWH and senior author of the paper. "Although the risk of death was elevated, the absolute risk of death among the women with AF in this healthy population was relatively low.

Researchers monitored more than 34,000 women participating in the Women's Health Study for approximately 15 years. The women were primarily white and over the age of 45. During that time period, 1,011 women developed atrial fibrillation. Approximately 2.1 percent of the deaths in the entire population could be attributed to the development of atrial fibrillation. Researchers also found that women with atrial fibrillation experienced a higher risk of cardiovascular events such as heart attack, stroke and . In fact, much of the elevation in risk of death could be explained by the development of these potentially preventable and treatable medical conditions.

"Some of these deaths may be preventable through available therapies including and . What this means for women with atrial fibrillation is that it is very important to optimally manage risk factors for cardiovascular disease with the help of their physician. However, there is also a portion of this increased risk that persists even when these are taken into account. For this reason, more research is needed to further understand the causes of atrial fibrillation so that we might identify ways to prevent atrial fibrillation and death associated with it." Albert said.

More information: JAMA. 2011;305[20]2080-2087.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Could aggressive blood pressure treatments lead to kidney damage?

July 18, 2017
Aggressive combination treatments for high blood pressure that are intended to protect the kidneys may actually be damaging the organs, new research from the University of Virginia School of Medicine suggests.

Quantifying effectiveness of treatment for irregular heartbeat

July 17, 2017
In a small proof-of-concept study, researchers at Johns Hopkins report a complex mathematical method to measure electrical communications within the heart can successfully predict the effectiveness of catheter ablation, the ...

Concerns over side effects of statins stopping stroke survivors taking medication

July 17, 2017
Negative media coverage of the side effects associated with taking statins, and patients' own experiences of taking the drugs, are among the reasons cited by stroke survivors and their carers for stopping taking potentially ...

Study discovers anticoagulant drugs are being prescribed against safety advice

July 17, 2017
A study by researchers at the University of Birmingham has shown that GPs are prescribing anticoagulants to patients with an irregular heartbeat against official safety advice.

Protein may protect against heart attack

July 14, 2017
DDK3 could be used as a new therapy to stop the build-up of fatty material inside the arteries

Heart study finds faulty link between biomarkers and clinical outcomes

July 14, 2017
Surrogate endpoints (biomarkers), which are routinely used in clinical research to test new drugs, should not be trusted as the ultimate measure to approve new health interventions in cardiovascular medicine, according to ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.