New risk factors for atrial fibrillation: causes of ‘not-so-lone atrial fibrillation’

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Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a prevalent arrhythmia in patients with cardiovascular disease. The classical risk factors for developing AF include hypertension, valvular disease, (ischaemic) cardiomyopathy, diabetes mellitus, and thyroid disease. In some patients with AF, no underlying (cardiovascular) pathology is present and the aetiology remains unknown. This condition is known as lone AF. However, in recent years, other factors playing a role in the genesis of AF have gained attention, including obesity, sleep apnoea, alcohol abuse and other intoxications, excessive sports practice, latent hypertension, genetic factors, and inflammation. In this review, we address these ‘new risk factors’ (i.e. as opposed to the classical risk factors) and the mechanisms by which they lead to AF.

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