Risk factors for incident atrial fibrillation with and without left atrial enlargement in women Journal Articles uri icon

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  • BACKGROUND: Left atrial (LA) enlargement facilitates induction and/or maintenance of atrial fibrillation (AF). However, little is known about risk factors for AF with normal LA size. METHODS: We prospectively followed 34713 initially healthy women for incident AF. Information on echocardiographic LA size at first AF diagnosis was abstracted from medical charts during AF confirmation. LA enlargement was defined as LA diameter >40 mm. Using a competing risk approach, we constructed Cox proportional-hazards models to calculate hazard ratios (HR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) of risk factors for incident AF with and without LA enlargement, respectively. RESULTS: Among 796 women with incident AF and available LA size, 328 (41%) had LA enlargement. In multivariable competing risk models, the relationship between age and incident AF was stronger in those with (HR 1.12, 95% CI 1.10-1.14) versus without (HR 1.08, 95% CI 1.06-1.09) LA enlargement (p for difference <0.0001). Body weight was associated with AF only in the presence of LA enlargement (HR per 10 kg 1.34, 95% CI 1.26-1.43; versus 1.07, 95% CI 0.998-1.14, p for difference<0.0001). Hypertension and height were significantly associated with AF both in the presence (HR 1.99, 95% CI 1.49-2.65; and HR per 10 cm 1.36, 95% CI 1.13-1.63) and absence (1.55, 1.25-1.92 and 1.29, 1.10-1.50) of LA enlargement (p for difference 0.17 and 0.66, respectively). CONCLUSIONS: These data suggest that LA enlargement explains much of the increased AF risk associated with obesity and age. In contrast, height and hypertension appear to also influence AF risk through other mechanisms besides LA enlargement.


  • Conen, David
  • Glynn, Robert J
  • Sandhu, Roopinder K
  • Tedrow, Usha B
  • Albert, Christine M

publication date

  • October 2013