OBJECTIVE: Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common arrhythmia in women. Large studies evaluating key AF risk factors in older women are lacking. We aimed to identify risk factors for AF in postmenopausal women and measure population burden of modifiable risk factors. DESIGN: Prospective observational study. SETTING: The Women's Health Initiative (WHI) Observational Study. PATIENTS: 93 676 postmenopausal women were followed for an average of 9.8 years for cardiovascular outcomes. After exclusion of women with prevalent AF or incomplete data, 8252 of the remaining 81 892 women developed incident AF. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Incident AF was identified by WHI-ascertained hospitalisation records and diagnosis codes from Medicare claims. Multivariate Cox hazard regression analysis identified independent risk factors for incident AF. RESULTS: Age, hypertension, obesity, diabetes, myocardial infarction and heart failure were independently associated with incident AF. Hypertension and overweight status accounted for 28.3% and 12.1%, respectively, of the population attributable risk. Hispanic and African-American participants had lower rates of incident AF (HR 0.58, 95% CI 0.47 to 0.70 and HR 0.59, 95% CI 0.53 to 0.65, respectively) than Caucasians. CONCLUSIONS: Caucasian ethnicity, traditional cardiovascular risk factors and peripheral arterial disease were independently associated with higher rates of incident AF in postmenopausal women. Hypertension and overweight status accounted for a large proportion of population attributable risk. Measuring burden of modifiable AF risk factors in older women may help target interventions.
View details for DOI 10.1136/heartjnl-2013-303798
View details for PubMedID 23756655