Association of Peripheral Artery Disease With Incident Atrial Fibrillation: The ARIC (Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities) Study

Wobo Bekwelem, Faye L. Norby, Sunil K. Agarwal, Kunihiro Matsushita, Josef Coresh, Alvaro Alonso, Lin Y. Chen

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16 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Although peripheral artery disease as defined by ankle-brachial index (ABI) is associated with incident atrial fibrillation (AF), questions remain about the risk of AF in borderline ABI (>0.90 to <1.0) or noncompressible arteries (>1.4). We evaluated the association of borderline ABI and ABI >1.4 in the ARIC (Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities) study, a population-based prospective cohort study. METHODS AND RESULTS: We included 14 794 participants (age, 54.2±5.8 years, 55% women, 26% blacks) with ABI measured at the baseline (1987-1989) and without AF. AF was identified from hospital records, death certificates, and ECGs. Using Cox proportional hazards, we evaluated the association between ABI and AF. During a median follow-up of 23.3 years, there were 2288 AF cases. After adjustment for cardiovascular risk factors, hazard ratio (HR) (95% confidence interval) for AF among individuals with ABI <1.0 compared with ABI 1.0 to 1.4, was 1.13 (1.01-1.27). ABI >1.4 was not associated with increased AF risk. ABI ≤0.9 and borderline ABI were associated with a higher risk of AF compared with ABI 1.0 to 1.4. Demographics-adjusted HRs (95% confidence interval) were 1.43 (1.17-1.75) and 1.32 (1.16-1.50), respectively. However, the associations of ABI ≤0.9 and borderline ABI with AF were attenuated after adjusting for cardiovascular risk factors (HR [95% confidence interval], 1.10 [0.90-1.34] and 1.14 [1.00-1.30]), respectively. CONCLUSIONS: Peripheral artery disease indicated by low ABI, including borderline ABI, is a weak risk factor for AF. ABI >1.4 is not associated with an increased AF risk. The relationship between peripheral artery disease and AF appears to be mostly explained by traditional atherosclerotic risk factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of the American Heart Association
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 17 2018


  • ankle‐brachial index
  • atherosclerosis
  • atrial fibrillation
  • peripheral artery disease
  • risk factors


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