Comparison of Risk of Atrial Fibrillation Among Employed Versus Unemployed (from the REasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke Study)

      Involuntary unemployment due to job loss has been associated with increased risk of cardiovascular events. Whether it also is associated with increased risk of atrial fibrillation (AF) is currently unknown. Therefore, we examined this association in 8,812 participants residing mainly in the Southeastern United States (mean age 58.1 ± 7.8 years; 63.2%; women; 43.2% black) with data on employment status who were enrolled in the REasons for Geographic And Racial Differences in Stroke study between 2003 and 2007 after excluding those with voluntary unemployment (retiree, homemakers, and students). AF was identified by electrocardiogram and past medical history at the same period. The cross-sectional association between status and type of unemployment with AF was examined in multivariable logistic regression models. Additional analysis in 4,273 participants without baseline AF and with data on incident AF collected in a follow-up visit occurred after a median of 9.4 years from baseline was also conducted. In a model adjusted for socio-demographics, health insurance, income, perceived stress, and cardiovascular risk factors, unemployment was associated with 60% increased odds of AF (odds ratio [95% confidence interval] 1.60 (1.24, 2.07)). This association was consistent in subgroups stratified by median age, gender, race, education, income, and health insurance status. Similarly, unemployment was associated with AF in those without AF at baseline who developed incident AF (odds ratio [95% confidence interval] 1.54 (1.04, 2.37)). In conclusion, involuntary unemployment is associated with increased risk of AF. This may call for considering socioeconomic determinants such as unemployment as part of the preventive strategies for AF.
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