Relationship Between Psychosocial Stressors and Atrial Fibrillation in Women >45 Years of Age Journal Articles uri icon

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  • Negative emotions have been linked to the development of atrial fibrillation (AF), and positive effect may be protective. However, there are few large-scale studies examining the association between psychosocial stressors that may provoke these emotions and the occurrence of AF. We examined the cross-sectional relation between psychosocial stress and AF in 24,809 women participating in the Women's Health Study. Participants answered questions about work stress (e.g., excessive work, conflicting demands), work-family spillover stress (e.g., too stressed after work to participate in activities with family), financial stress (e.g., difficulty paying monthly bills), traumatic life events (e.g., death of a child), everyday discrimination (e.g., less respect, poor service), intimate partner stress (e.g., how judgmental is your spouse/partner), neighborhood stress (e.g., neighborhood safety, trust), negative life events within 5 years (e.g., life threatening illness, legal problems), and cumulative stress (a weighted measure of the stress domains). The prevalence of confirmed AF was 3.84% (N = 953) and risk factor profiles differed by AF status. Women with AF reported significantly higher financial stress, traumatic life events, and neighborhood stress (peach < 0.05). Only traumatic life events (odds ratio 1.37, 95% confidence interval 1.19 to 1.59) was significantly associated with AF after adjustment for cardiovascular risk factors, socioeconomic and psychosocial status. These large-scale cross-sectional data thus indicate a potential relationship between traumatic life events and AF in older women.


  • Westcott, Sarah K
  • Beach, Leila Y
  • Matsushita, Fumika
  • Albert, Christine M
  • Chatterjee, Neal
  • Wong, Jorge
  • Williams, David R
  • Vinayagamoorthy, Manickavasagar
  • Buring, Julie E
  • Albert, Michelle A

publication date

  • November 2018