Trajectories of cardiovascular risk factors and incidence of atrial fibrillation over a 25-year follow-up

Faye L. Norby, Elsayed Z. Soliman, Lin Y. Chen, Lindsay G.S. Bengtson, Laura R. Loehr, Sunil K. Agarwal, Alvaro Alonso

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Background: Timing and trajectories of cardiovascular risk factor (CVRF) development in relation to atrial fibrillation (AF) have not been described previously. We assessed trajectories of CVRF and incidence of AF over 25 years in the ARIC study (Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities). Methods: We assessed trajectories of CVRF in 2456 individuals with incident AF and 6414 matched control subjects. Subsequently, we determined the association of CVRF trajectories with the incidence of AF among 10 559 AF-free individuals (mean age, 67 years; 52% men; 20% blacks). Risk factors were measured during 5 examinations between 1987 and 2013. Cardiovascular events, including incident AF, were ascertained continuously. We modeled the prevalence of risk factors and cardiovascular outcomes in the period before and after AF diagnosis and the corresponding index date for control subjects using generalized estimating equations. Trajectories in risk factors were identified with latent mixture modeling. The risk of incident AF by trajectory group was examined with Cox models. Results: The prevalence of stroke, myocardial infarction, and heart failure increased steeply during the time close to AF diagnosis. All CVRFs were elevated in AF cases compared with controls >15 years before diagnosis. We identified distinct trajectories for all the assessed CVRFs. In general, individuals with trajectories denoting long-term exposure to CVRFs had increased AF risk even after adjustment for single measurements of the CVRFs. Conclusions: AF patients have increased prevalence of CVRF many years before disease diagnosis. This analysis identified diverse trajectories in the prevalence of these risk factors, highlighting their different roles in AF pathogenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)599-610
Number of pages12
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 23 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The ARIC study is carried out as a collaborative study supported by National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute contracts (HHSN268201100005C, HHSN268201100006C, HSN268 201100007C, HHSN268201100008C, HHSN268201100009C, HHSN268201100010C, HHSN268201100011C, and HHSN268 20110 0012C). This work was additionally supported by American Heart Association grant 16EIA26410001 (Dr Alonso).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 American Heart Association, Inc.

Copyright 2017 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • atrial fibrillation
  • cardiovascular diseases
  • epidemiology

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