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Resting Heart Rate, Short-Term Heart Rate Variability and Incident Atrial Fibrillation (from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA))

Published:September 06, 2019DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amjcard.2019.08.025
      Evidence suggests an association between autonomical nervous system (ANS) function and atrial fibrillation (AF) development. We sought to examine the association of baseline resting heart rate (RHR) and short-term heart rate variability (HRV) as surrogates of (ANS) with incident AF in individuals without previous cardiovascular disease. A total of 6,261 participants of the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis who were free of AF and diagnosed cardiovascular disease were enrolled. Three standard 10-second, 12-lead electrocardiograms (ECG) were used to measure RHR, the standard deviation of normal-to-normal intervals (SDNN) and the root mean square of successive differences in RR intervals (RMSSD). Cox proportional hazards models adjusted for demographics, atrioventricular nodal agents, and known cardiovascular risk factors were used to examine the association of baseline RHR, and log transformed SDNN and RMSDD with incident AF. Over a mean follow-up of 11.3 ± 3.7 years, 754 (12%) participants developed AF. Spline curve analysis revealed a nonlinear association between RHR, HRV, and incident AF. In fully adjusted models higher (but not lower) baseline RHR (RHR >76 beats/min) was associated with incident AF (hazard ratio 1.48 95% confidence interval 1.18 to 1.86). Additionally, lower values of RMSDD and SDNN and higher values of RMSDD were independently associated with incident AF. In conclusion, cardiac ANS dysregulation indicated as higher RHR and lower HRV is associated with incident AF independent of known cardiovascular risk factors.
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