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Dysregulated carbohydrate and lipid metabolism and risk of atrial fibrillation in advanced old age


Objective Obesity and dysmetabolism are major risk factors for atrial fibrillation (AF). Fasting and postload levels of glucose and non-esterified fatty acids (NEFAs) reflect different facets of metabolic regulation. We sought to study their respective contributions to AF risk concurrently.

Methods We assessed levels of fasting and postload glucose and NEFA in the Cardiovascular Health Study to identify associations with AF incidence and, secondarily, with ECG parameters of AF risk available at baseline. Linear and Cox regressions were performed.

Results The study included 1876 participants (age 77.7±4.4). During the median follow-up of 11.4 years, 717 cases of incident AF occurred. After adjustment for potential confounders, postload glucose showed an association with incident AF (HR per SD increment of postload glucose=1.11, 95% CI 1.02 to 1.21, p=0.017). Both glucose measures, but not NEFA, were positively associated with higher P wave terminal force in V1 (PTFV1); the association remained significant only for postload glucose when the two measures were entered together (β per SD increment=138 μV·ms, 95% CI 15 to 260, p=0.028). Exploratory analyses showed significant interaction by sex for fasting NEFA (pinteraction=0.044) and postload glucose (pinteraction=0.015) relative to AF, with relationships stronger in women. For postload glucose, the association with incident AF was observed among women but not among men.

Conclusions Among older adults, postload glucose was positively associated with incident AF, with consistent findings for PTFV1. In exploratory analyses, the relationship with AF appeared specific to women. These findings require further study but suggest that interventions to address postprandial dysglycaemia late in life might reduce AF.

  • atrial fibrillation
  • epidemiology

Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request.

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