Smoking, alcohol consumption increase lifetime risk of atrial fibrillation

April 30, 2018, Boston University School of Medicine
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Lifetime risk is a useful method to quantify risk of atrial fibrillation over a person's lifetime. However, data are scarce with respect to the lifetime risk of atrial fibrillation in the presence of one or multiple risk factors such as obesity and smoking.

Now, a new study co-authored by Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researchers found that among individuals aged 55 years or older, the overall lifetime risk of (AF) was 37 percent and was influenced by the burden of risk factors.

The study was published in The BMJ.

"We examined the lifetime risk of atrial fibrillation, which measures the cumulative risk of developing a disease during the remainder of an individual's life," says co-author Ludovic Trinquart, assistant professor of biostatistics at BUSPH. "It is essential to look at lifetime risks in addition to short-term risks, because it may enable early identification of individuals at higher long-term risk and facilitate lifestyle change counseling."

The number of individuals with atrial fibrillation has been projected to rise to about 12 million to 15 million by 2050 in the United States. This increase is linked to the global increase in life expectancy. Established risk factors for developing atrial fibrillation within 10 years include cigarette smoking, alcohol misuse, hypertension, obesity, diabetes, myocardial infarction, and heart failure. However, prior research has provided little insight on the lifetime risk of atrial fibrillation.

"By contrast with the relative risk of atrial fibrillation, lifetime risk is an easy way for clinicians to communicate future risk of atrial fibrillation to individuals," the authors wrote. "Estimating the lifetime risk of atrial fibrillation in various subgroups with one or multiple elevated or borderline-elevated risk factors might also help to design preventive strategies."

The researchers assessed 5,338 participants from the Framingham Heart Study who did not have atrial fibrillation at one or more of the index ages of 55, 65, and 75 years. They identified smoking, alcohol consumption, body mass index, blood pressure, diabetes, and history of myocardial infarction or heart failure at an index age as risk factors. Then, they categorized risk factor burdens as optimal (all risk factors were optimal), elevated (at least one risk factor elevated), and borderline, and compared the lifetime risk estimates according to those levels of risk factor burden.

Risk factors present at index age 55 years considerably influenced lifetime risk. An optimal risk factor profile was associated with a lifetime risk of atrial fibrillation of 23 percent. Lifetime risk rose to about 34 percent in individuals borderline risk profile, and to 38 percent in individuals with an elevated risk factor.

The authors emphasized that preventive efforts to reduce the disease burden should target modifiable borderline and elevated risk factors.

"Studying atrial fibrillation is important because it is emerging as a global epidemic; it also imposes considerable socioeconomic burden. Atrial fibrillation hospitalizations follow an exponential increase and have surpassed heart failure admissions," Trinquart says. "Moreover, atrial fibrillation is associated with increased risks of stroke, dementia, myocardial infarction, heart failure, and premature death. Primary prevention remains largely untapped for improving AF management."

Explore further: Obesity linked with higher chance of developing rapid, irregular heart rate

Related Stories

Obesity linked with higher chance of developing rapid, irregular heart rate

April 18, 2018
People with obesity are more likely to develop a rapid and irregular heart rate, called atrial fibrillation, which can lead to stroke, heart failure and other complications, according to Penn State researchers.

Impact of AF on stroke risk eliminated with multiple risk factors

September 1, 2013
Patients with five or more risk factors have the same stroke risk as patients with atrial fibrillation, according to research presented at the ESC Congress today by Dr. Christine Benn Christiansen from Denmark. The study ...

Atrial fibrillation risk rises with decreasing kidney function

August 10, 2017
A new study indicates that individuals with kidney disease have a higher risk of developing atrial fibrillation, or an irregular heartbeat. The findings, which appear in an upcoming issue of the Clinical Journal of the American ...

Men develop irregular heartbeat earlier than women; extra weight a factor

October 16, 2017
Men develop a type of irregular heartbeat, known as atrial fibrillation, about a decade earlier than women on average, and being overweight is a major risk factor, according to a large new study published in the American ...

Big women have nearly threefold greater risk of atrial fibrillation

April 7, 2017
Big women have a nearly threefold greater risk of atrial fibrillation than small women, according to research presented today at EuroPrevent 2017. The study included 1.5 million women who were followed-up for more than 30 ...

Atrial fibrillation patients are at increased risk of dementia, regardless of anticoagulation use

November 15, 2016
Atrial fibrillation patients who use the drug, warfarin, to prevent harmful blood clots from forming in their hearts to lower risk of stroke are at higher risk of developing dementia than patients who use warfarin for non-atrial ...

Recommended for you

New cellular pathway helps explain how inflammation leads to artery disease

June 21, 2018
Investigators have identified a new cellular pathway that may help explain how arterial inflammation develops into atherosclerosis—deposits of cholesterol, fats and other substances that create plaque, clog arteries and ...

'Smart stent' detects narrowing of arteries

June 19, 2018
For every three individuals who have had a stent implanted to keep clogged arteries open and prevent a heart attack, at least one will experience restenosis—the renewed narrowing of the artery due to plaque buildup or scarring—which ...

Marriage may protect against heart disease / stroke and associated risk of death

June 18, 2018
Marriage may protect against the development of heart disease/stroke as well as influencing who is more likely to die of it, suggests a pooled analysis of the available data, published online in the journal Heart.

Deaths from cardiac arrest are misclassified, overestimated

June 18, 2018
Forty percent of deaths attributed to cardiac arrest are not sudden or unexpected, and nearly half of the remainder are not arrhythmic—the only situation in which CPR and defibrillators are effective—according to an analysis ...

Tick-borne meat sensitivity linked to heart disease

June 15, 2018
University of Virginia School of Medicine researchers have linked sensitivity to an allergen in red meat—a sensitivity spread by tick bites—with a buildup of fatty plaque in the arteries of the heart. This buildup may ...

The molecules that energize babies' hearts

June 14, 2018
A metabolic process that provides heart muscle with energy fails to mature in newborns with thickened heart walls, according to a Japan–Canada research team.

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.