Aims: To assess the joint influence of inflammatory biomarkers on the risk of incident atrial fibrillation (AF) in women.
Methods and results: We performed a prospective cohort study among women participating in the Women's Health Study. All women were free of AF at study entry and provided a baseline blood sample assayed for high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, soluble intercellular adhesion molecule-1, and fibrinogen. To evaluate the joint effect of these three biomarkers, an inflammation score was created that ranged from 0 to 3 and reflected the number of biomarkers in the highest tertile per individual. During a median follow-up of 14.4 years, 747 of 24,734 women (3.0%) experienced a first AF event. Assessed individually, all three biomarkers were associated with incident AF, even after adjustment for traditional risk factors. When combined into an inflammation score, a strong and independent relationship between inflammation and incident AF emerged. Across increasing inflammation score categories, there were 1.66, 2.22, 2.73, and 3.25 AF events per 1000 person-years of follow-up. The corresponding hazard ratios (95% confidence intervals) across inflammation score categories were 1.0, 1.22 (1.00-1.49), 1.32 (1.06-1.65), and 1.59 (1.22-2.06) (P for linear trend 0.0006) after multivariable adjustment.
Conclusion: In this large-scale prospective study among women without a history of cardiovascular disease, markers of systemic inflammation were significantly related to AF even after controlling for traditional risk factors.