What is the association between asthma, levels of asthma control, and atrial fibrillation?
In this cohort study of 54 567 participants, diagnosed asthma was associated with a 38% increased risk of atrial fibrillation, and there was a dose-response association between levels of asthma control and atrial fibrillation.
Lack of asthma control was associated with moderately increased risk of atrial fibrillation; given poor asthma control in general population, the observed association has clinical and public health importance.
Asthma, a chronic inflammatory airway disease, and atrial fibrillation (AF) share several common pathophysiological mechanisms. Research on the association between asthma and atrial fibrillation is lacking, and to our knowledge, no previous studies have assessed the dose-response association between levels of asthma control and AF.
To assess the association between asthma, levels of asthma control, and AF.
Design, Setting, and Participants
This prospective population cohort analyzed data on adults from a second and third iteration of the survey-based Nord-Trøndelag Health Study (HUNT) in Norway. All included participants were free from AF at baseline. Atrial fibrillation was ascertained by linking HUNT data with hospital records from the 2 hospitals in Nord-Trøndelag County. Data analysis was completed from May 2017 to November 2017.
Self-reported asthma was categorized into 3 groups: those who had ever had asthma, those who self-report being diagnosed with asthma, and those who had active asthma. Asthma control was defined according to Global Initiative for Asthma guidelines and was categorized into controlled, partly controlled, and uncontrolled cases.
Main Outcomes and Measures
A total of 54 567 adults were included (of whom 28 821 [52.8%] were women). Of these, 5961 participants (10.9%) reported ever having asthma, 3934 participants (7.2%) reported being diagnosed with asthma, and 2485 participants (4.6%) reported having active asthma. During a mean (SD) follow-up of 15.4 (5.8) years, 2071 participants (3.8%) developed AF. Participants with physician-diagnosed asthma had an estimated 38% higher risk of developing AF (adjusted hazard ratio, 1.38 [95% CI, 1.18-1.61]) compared with participants without asthma. There was a dose-response association between levels of asthma control and risk of AF with the highest risk for AF in participants with uncontrolled asthma (adjusted hazard ratio, 1.74 [95% CI, 1.26–2.42]; P for trend < .001).
Conclusions and Relevance
Asthma and lack of asthma control were associated with moderately increased risks of AF in a dose-response manner. Further studies are needed to explore the underlying mechanisms and clarify causal pathways between asthma and AF.
Cepelis A, Brumpton BM, Malmo V, et al. Associations of Asthma and Asthma Control With Atrial Fibrillation Risk: Results From the Nord-Trøndelag Health Study (HUNT). JAMA Cardiol. 2018;3(8):721–728. doi:10.1001/jamacardio.2018.1901
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