SAN DIEGO — Individuals with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are at an increased risk for developing atrial fibrillation (AF) according to research presented at the 2018 American Thoracic Society 2018 International Conference.

Researchers from Ghent University in Belgium and Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, aimed to investigate whether COPD would increase the risk for developing AF and which subset of patients were at the highest risk. A total of 10,943 participants from the Rotterdam Study were included in the study; 1369 of whom had COPD. Time-dependent Cox proportional hazard models adjusted for age, sex, and pack-years of cigarette smoking. More than 800 patients developed AF during 99,242 person-years of follow-up.

The adjusted hazard ratio (HR) in participants with COPD to develop AF compared with participants without COPD was 1.28 [95% CI, 1.04-1.57]. The results showed that patients with COPD with frequent exacerbations had a 2-fold increased risk for developing AF compared with participants without COPD (HR, 1.99; 95% CI,1.42-2.79), and the incident AF risk was upheld by individuals with COPD with a left atrial size ≥median 40 mm (HR, 2.02; 95% CI, 1.32-3.10).

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“[Participants with] COPD had a 28% increased risk of developing AF,” the investigators concluded.


Lahousse L, Grymonprez M, Vakaet V, et al. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and the development of atrial fibrillation. Presented at: American Thoracic Society 2018 International Conference; May 18-23, 2018; San Diego, California. Abstract 7513.

This article originally appeared on Pulmonology Advisor