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Am J Cardiol. 2012 Jul 15;110(2):212-6. doi: 10.1016/j.amjcard.2012.03.010. Epub 2012 Apr 12.

Plasma free fatty acids and risk of atrial fibrillation (from the Cardiovascular Health Study).

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Division of Aging, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.


Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a highly prevalent cardiac arrhythmia in clinical practice, affecting approximately 2.3 million residents of the United States and 4.5 million residents of the European Union. It is unclear whether plasma free fatty acids (FFAs) influence the risk of AF in older adults. The aim of this study was to prospectively examine the association between plasma FFAs and incident AF in a prospective cohort of 4,175 men and women ≥65 years old from the Cardiovascular Health Study. Plasma concentrations of FFAs were measured 2 times during the 1992 to 1993 examination. Incident AF was ascertained based on study electrocardiographic and hospitalization records during follow-up. We used Cox regression to estimate relative risks of AF. Average age at baseline was 74.6 ± 5.1 years. During a mean follow-up of 10.0 years, 1,041 new cases of AF occurred. Crude incidence rates of AF were 23.7, 23.3, 23.9, and 29.7 cases/1,000 person-years across consecutive quartiles of plasma FFAs. There was a positive association between plasma FFAs and risk of AF. Multivariable adjusted hazard ratios (95% confidence intervals) for incident AF were 1.00 (referent), 1.02 (0.85 to 1.21), 1.05 (0.88 to 1.26), and 1.29 (1.08 to 1.55) from the lowest to highest quartiles of FFAs, respectively. In a secondary analysis restricted to the first 5 years of follow-up, this association persisted. In conclusion, our data show an increased risk of AF with higher plasma FFAs in community-dwelling older adults.

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