Increased prevalence of atrial fibrillation after the Great East Japan Earthquake: Results from the Fukushima Health Management Survey

Int J Cardiol. 2015 Nov 1;198:102-5. doi: 10.1016/j.ijcard.2015.06.151. Epub 2015 Jul 2.


Background: Previous studies have shown that control of cardiovascular risk factors deteriorates among residents after a natural disaster. This study assessed the hypothesis that the prevalence of atrial fibrillation (AF) increased among residents in the evacuation zone of Fukushima prefecture after the Great East Japan Earthquake.

Methods and results: This longitudinal study examined subjects aged 40-90 years using data collected from 26,163 participants (11,628 men and 14,535 women) sourced from general health checkups conducted in twelve communities, including the evacuation zone specified by the government, between 2008 and 2010. The study obtained 12-lead ECG tracings and conducted follow-up examinations from June 2011 to the end of March 2013. A total of 12,410 participants (5704 men and 6706 women, follow-up proportion: 47%) received follow-up examinations after the earthquake, with an average follow-up of 1.4 years. The prevalence of AF increased among participants after the earthquake (before: 1.9% vs. after: 2.4%, P<.001). During the follow-up period, 79 incidences of AF occurred among participants. Excess ethanol intake (≥44 g/day) and obesity showed associations with an increased risk of AF after the earthquake, with multivariable-adjusted hazard ratios (95% confidence interval) of 3.07 (1.55-6.08) and 1.87 (1.19-2.94), respectively.

Conclusions: The prevalence of AF increased among residents in the evacuation zone of Fukushima prefecture after the Great East Japan Earthquake, with excess alcohol intake and obesity associated with an increased risk of AF.

Keywords: Alcohol; Atrial fibrillation; Earthquake; Obesity.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology
  • Atrial Fibrillation / diagnosis*
  • Atrial Fibrillation / epidemiology*
  • Disasters*
  • Earthquakes*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Health Surveys*
  • Humans
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / diagnosis
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Prevalence