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Circ Arrhythm Electrophysiol. 2020 Feb;13(2):e007685. doi: 10.1161/CIRCEP.119.007685. Epub 2020 Feb 4.

Persistent Asthma Is Associated With Increased Risk for Incident Atrial Fibrillation in the MESA.

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Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison (M.C.T., A.D.G., M.M.K., M.H.H., J.H.S.).
Department of Biostatistics, University of Washington, Seattle (A.S.D., R.L.M.).
Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Department of Medicine, William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital, Madison, WI (A.D.G., M.M.K.).
Department of Medicine, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston (M.E.F.).
Department of Epidemiology, University of Washington School of Public Health, Seattle (S.R.H.).
Cardiovascular Health Research Unit, Departments of Medicine, Epidemiology and Health Services, University of Washington and Group Health Research Institute, Group Health Cooperative, Seattle (S.R.H.).



Asthma and atrial fibrillation (AF) share an underlying inflammatory pathophysiology. We hypothesized that persistent asthmatics are at higher risk for developing AF and that this association would be attenuated by adjustment for baseline markers of systemic inflammation.


The MESA (Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis) is a prospective longitudinal study of adults free of cardiovascular disease at baseline. Presence of asthma was determined at exam 1. Persistent asthma was defined as asthma requiring use of controller medications. Intermittent asthma was defined as asthma without use of controller medications. Participants were followed for a median of 12.9 (interquartile range, 10-13.6) years for incident AF. Multivariable Cox regression models were used to assess associations of asthma subtype and AF.


The 6615 participants were a mean (SD) 62.0 (10.2) years old (47% male, 27% black, 12% Chinese, and 22% Hispanic). AF incidence rates were 0.11 (95% CI, 0.01-0.12) events/10 person-years for nonasthmatics, 0.11 (95% CI, 0.08-0.14) events/10 person-years for intermittent asthmatics, and 0.19 (95% CI, 0.120.49) events/10 person-years for persistent asthmatics (log-rank P=0.008). In risk-factor adjusted models, persistent asthmatics had a greater risk of incident AF (hazard ratio, 1.49 [95% CI, 1.03-2.14], P=0.03). IL (Interleukin)-6 (hazard ratio, 1.26 [95% CI, 1.13-1.42]), TNF (tumor necrosis factor)-α receptor 1 (hazard ratio, 1.09 [95% CI, 1.08-1.11]) and D-dimer (hazard ratio, 1.10 [95% CI, 1.02-1.20]) predicted incident AF, but the relationship between asthma and incident AF was not attenuated by adjustment for any inflammation marker (IL-6, CRP [C-reactive protein], TNF-α R1, D-dimer, and fibrinogen).


In a large multiethnic cohort with nearly 13 years follow-up, persistent asthma was associated with increased risk for incident AF. This association was not attenuated by adjustment for baseline inflammatory biomarkers.


asthma; atrial fibrillation; cardiovascular disease; inflammation; interleukin


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