Aims: The present study was designed to establish the relationship between personality factors, socio-economic factors and acute life stress with development, spontaneous cardioversion and recurrences of acute lone atrial fibrillation.
Methods: The study group consisted of 116 patients with lone atrial fibrillation cardioverted within 48h of the onset of arrhythmia; they underwent a series of cognitive tests to evaluate acute psychological stress and personality type. The socio-economic status and other covariates (alcohol consumption, smoking, and body mass index) were investigated. A control group, age- and sex-matched, was selected and compared. In the logistic regression analysis, the presence of spontaneous conversion to sinus rhythm was used as the dependent variable. Independent variables were indicator variables representing categories of stress, Type A behaviour pattern, coffee consumption and body mass index. Variables considered for logistic analysis were only those with independent prognostic value.
Results: Type A behaviour pattern was found in 23 (20%) patients with atrial fibrillation and in 11 (9%) controls (P<0.001). The mean score among patients with atrial fibrillation was 8+/-2.7, while in control subjects it was 5.5+/-2. The mean acute life stress score among patients with atrial fibrillation was 56+/-33, while in controls it was 34+/-27 (P<0.01). Spontaneous conversion of atrial fibrillation to sinus rhythm was observed in 72 patients (63%). In univariate analysis alcohol consumption, income, education and smoking habits did not affect spontaneous conversion. High coffee consumption (OR 0.3 95% CI 0.11-0.49; P<0.008) and high body mass index were associated with a significantly greater risk of atrial fibrillation (OR 1.5 95% CI 1.2-1.7).
Conclusions: Type A behaviour pattern and acute life stress affect the development and spontaneous conversion of atrial fibrillation. Patients with acute stress showed the highest probability of spontaneous conversion followed by patients with Type A behaviour. Other socio-economic factors affect spontaneous conversion and recurrences of lone atrial fibrillation to a lesser extent.