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

Gout could increase heart disease risk

August 17, 2018
Having a type of inflammatory arthritis called gout may worsen heart-related outcomes for people being treated for coronary artery disease, according to new research.

Stroke patients treated at a teaching hospital are less likely to be readmitted

August 17, 2018
Stroke patients appear to receive better care at teaching hospitals with less of a chance of landing back in a hospital during the early stages of recovery, according to new research from The University of Texas Health Science ...

Cardiovascular disease related to type 2 diabetes can be reduced significantly

August 16, 2018
Properly composed treatment and refraining from cigarette consumption can significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease resulting from type 2 diabetes, according to a study published in the New England Journal of ...

Genomic autopsy can help solve unexplained cardiac death

August 15, 2018
Molecular autopsies can reveal genetic risk factors in young people who unexpectedly die, but proper interpretation of the results can be challenging, according to a recent study published in Circulation.

Neonatal pig hearts can heal from heart attack

August 15, 2018
While pigs still cannot fly, researchers have discovered that the hearts of newborn piglets do have one remarkable ability. They can almost completely heal themselves after experimental heart attacks.

Fifty percent of cardiovascular patients suffer from multiple diseases

August 15, 2018
New research led by The University of Western Australia has revealed that one in two patients admitted to hospital with a cardiovascular disease is suffering from multiple chronic medical conditions which required complex ...

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.