Body mass index and the risk of new-onset atrial fibrillation in middle-aged adults

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Increased body mass index (BMI) and obesity are associated with increased risk of new-onset atrial fibrillation (AF) among middle-aged adults.


The objective of the study is to investigate the association between BMI and the risk for new-onset AF among middle-aged adults.


We investigated 18,290 men and women who were annually screened in a tertiary medical center. Participants were divided at baseline into 3 groups: normal weight (BMI ≥18 and <25 kg/m2, n = 7,692), overweight (BMI ≥25 and <30 kg/m2, n = 8,032), and obese (BMI ≥30 kg/m2, n = 2,566). The primary end point was new-onset AF during follow-up.


Mean age of study population was 49 ± 11 years, and 73% were men. A total of 288 incident events (1.6%) occurred during 6 ± 4 years. Kaplan-Meier survival analysis showed that the cumulative probability of AF at 6 years was highest among obese participants, intermediate among overweight participants, and lowest among participants with normal weight (2.1%, 1.7%, and 0.8% respectively, P < .001). Multivariable Cox regression analysis showed that overweight and obesity were independently associated with increased AF risk (hazard ratio 1.54 [P = .004] and 2.41 [P < .001], respectively). Assessment of BMI change as a time-dependent covariate in the multivariable model showed that each 1 kg/m2 reduction in BMI during follow-up was associated with a significant 7% reduction in the risk for the occurrence of a first AF event (hazard ratio 0.93, 95% CI 0.88-0.99, P = .019). Consistently, similar analysis showed that each 5-kg weight loss during follow-up was independently associated with a significant 12% reduced risk of new-onset AF (95% CI 0.81-0.98, P = .02).


Our findings suggest that overweight and obesity are associated with increased AF risk, whereas weight reduction is independently associated with reduced risk of de novo AF.

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