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Heart. 2014 Jul;100(13):1037-42. doi: 10.1136/heartjnl-2013-305304. Epub 2014 May 14.

Atrial fibrillation is associated with different levels of physical activity levels at different ages in men.

Author information

Department of Cardiology at the Karolinska Institute, Karolinska University Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden.
Division of Nutritional Epidemiology, The National Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden.



This study examines the influence of physical activity at different ages and of different types, on the risk of developing atrial fibrillation (AF) in a large cohort of Swedish men.


Information about physical activity was obtained from 44 410 AF-free men, aged 45-79 years (mean age=60), who had completed a self-administered questionnaire at baseline in 1997. Participants reported retrospectively their time spent on leisure-time exercise and on walking or bicycling throughout their lifetime (at 15, 30 and 50 years of age, and at baseline (mean age=60)). Participants were followed-up in the Swedish National Inpatient Register for ascertainment of AF. Cox proportional hazards regression models were used to estimate relative risks (RR) with 95% CIs, adjusted for potential confounders.


During a median follow-up of 12 years, 4568 cases of AF were diagnosed. We observed a RR of 1.19 (95% CI 1.05 to 1.36) of developing AF in men who at the age of 30 years had exercised for >5 h/week compared with <1 h/week. The risk was even higher (RR 1.49, 95% CI 1.14 to 1.95) among the men who exercised >5 h/week at age 30 and quit exercising later in life (<1 h/week at baseline). Walking/bicycling at baseline was inversely associated with risk of AF (RR 0.87, 95% CI 0.77 to 0.97 for >1 h/day vs almost never) and the association was similar after excluding men with previous coronary heart disease or heart failure at baseline (corresponding RR 0.88, 95% CI 0.77 to 0.998).


Leisure-time exercise at younger age is associated with an increased risk of AF, whereas walking/bicycling at older age is associated with a decreased risk.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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