Atrial fibrillation and the risk of sudden cardiac death: The atherosclerosis risk in communities study and cardiovascular health study

Lin Y. Chen, Nona Sotoodehnia, Petra Bůžková, Faye L. Lopez, Laura M. Yee, Susan R. Heckbert, Ronald Prineas, Elsayed Z. Soliman, Selcuk Adabag, Suma Konety, Aaron R. Folsom, David Siscovick, Alvaro Alonso

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

107 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: It is unknown whether atrial fibrillation (AF) is associated with an increased risk of sudden cardiac death (SCD) in the general population. This association was examined in 2 population-based cohorts. Methods: In the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study, we analyzed data from 15 439 participants (baseline age, 45-64 years; 55.2% women; and 26.6% black) from baseline (1987-1989) through December 31, 2001. In the Cardiovascular Health Study (CHS), we analyzed data from 5479 participants (baseline age, ≥65 years; 58.2% women; and 15.4% black) from baseline (first cohort, 1989-1990; second cohort, 1992-1993) through December 31, 2006. The main outcome was physician-adjudicated SCD, defined as death from a sudden, pulseless condition presumed to be due to a ventricular tachyarrhythmia. The secondary outcome was non-SCD (NSCD), defined as coronary heart disease death not meeting SCD criteria. We used Cox proportional hazards models to assess the association between AF and SCD/NSCD, adjusting for baseline demographic and cardiovascular risk factors. Results: In the ARIC Study, 894 AF, 269 SCD, and 233 NSCD events occurred during follow-up (median, 13.1 years). The crude incidence rates of SCD were 2.89 per 1000 person-years (with AF) and 1.30 per 1000 person-years (without AF). The multivariable hazard ratios (HRs) (95% CIs) of AF for SCD and NSCD were 3.26 (2.17-4.91) and 2.43 (1.60-3.71), respectively. In the CHS, 1458 AF, 292 SCD, and 581 NSCD events occurred during follow-up (median, 13.1 years). The crude incidence rates of SCD were 12.00 per 1000 person-years (with AF) and 3.82 per 1000 person-years (without AF). The multivariable HRs (95% CIs) of AF for SCD and NSCD were 2.14 (1.60-2.87) and 3.10 (2.58-3.72), respectively. The meta-analyzed HRs (95% CIs) of AF for SCD and NSCD were 2.47 (1.95-3.13) and 2.98 (2.52-3.53), respectively. Conclusions: Incident AF is associated with an increased risk of SCD and NSCD in the general population. Additional research to identify predictors of SCD in patients with AF is warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-35
Number of pages7
JournalJAMA internal medicine
Volume173
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2013

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