Persistent Asthma Is Associated with Increased Risk for Incident Atrial Fibrillation in the MESA

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


External Institution(s)

  • University of Washington
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Medical University of South Carolina


Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)121-130
Number of pages10
JournalCirculation: Arrhythmia and Electrophysiology
StatusPublished - Feb 1 2020


Background: Asthma and atrial fibrillation (AF) share an underlying inflammatory pathophysiology. We hypothesized that persistent asthmatics are at higher risk for developing AF and that this association would be attenuated by adjustment for baseline markers of systemic inflammation. Methods: The MESA (Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis) is a prospective longitudinal study of adults free of cardiovascular disease at baseline. Presence of asthma was determined at exam 1. Persistent asthma was defined as asthma requiring use of controller medications. Intermittent asthma was defined as asthma without use of controller medications. Participants were followed for a median of 12.9 (interquartile range, 10-13.6) years for incident AF. Multivariable Cox regression models were used to assess associations of asthma subtype and AF. Results: The 6615 participants were a mean (SD) 62.0 (10.2) years old (47% male, 27% black, 12% Chinese, and 22% Hispanic). AF incidence rates were 0.11 (95% CI, 0.01-0.12) events/10 person-years for nonasthmatics, 0.11 (95% CI, 0.08-0.14) events/10 person-years for intermittent asthmatics, and 0.19 (95% CI, 0.120.49) events/10 person-years for persistent asthmatics (log-rank P=0.008). In risk-factor adjusted models, persistent asthmatics had a greater risk of incident AF (hazard ratio, 1.49 [95% CI, 1.03-2.14], P=0.03). IL (Interleukin)-6 (hazard ratio, 1.26 [95% CI, 1.13-1.42]), TNF (tumor necrosis factor)-α receptor 1 (hazard ratio, 1.09 [95% CI, 1.08-1.11]) and D-dimer (hazard ratio, 1.10 [95% CI, 1.02-1.20]) predicted incident AF, but the relationship between asthma and incident AF was not attenuated by adjustment for any inflammation marker (IL-6, CRP [C-reactive protein], TNF-α R1, D-dimer, and fibrinogen). Conclusions: In a large multiethnic cohort with nearly 13 years follow-up, persistent asthma was associated with increased risk for incident AF. This association was not attenuated by adjustment for baseline inflammatory biomarkers.

    Research areas

  • Asthma, Atrial fibrillation, Cardiovascular disease, Inflammation, Interleukin

Citation formats


Tattersall, M. C., Dasiewicz, A. S., McClelland, R. L., Gepner, A. D., Kalscheur, M. M., Field, M. E., ... Stein, J. H. (2020). Persistent Asthma Is Associated with Increased Risk for Incident Atrial Fibrillation in the MESA. Circulation: Arrhythmia and Electrophysiology, 121-130.


Tattersall, MC, Dasiewicz, AS, McClelland, RL, Gepner, AD, Kalscheur, MM, Field, ME, Heckbert, SR, Hamdan, MH & Stein, JH 2020, 'Persistent Asthma Is Associated with Increased Risk for Incident Atrial Fibrillation in the MESA', Circulation: Arrhythmia and Electrophysiology, pp. 121-130.