Effect of an intensive lifestyle intervention on atrial fibrillation risk in individuals with type 2 diabetes: the Look AHEAD randomized trial

Am Heart J. 2015 Oct;170(4):770-777.e5. doi: 10.1016/j.ahj.2015.07.026. Epub 2015 Jul 26.


Background: Obesity is associated with higher risk of atrial fibrillation (AF), but the impact of behavioral weight loss interventions on atrial fibrillation (AF) risk in persons with diabetes is unknown. We addressed this question in the Look AHEAD randomized trial.

Methods and results: A total of 5,067 overweight or obese individuals 45 to 76 years old with type 2 diabetes without prevalent AF were randomized to either an intensive lifestyle intervention (ILI) designed to achieve and maintain weight loss through caloric reduction and increased physical activity or a diabetes support and education usual care group. Atrial fibrillation was ascertained from electrocardiograms at study examinations and hospitalization discharge summaries. Multivariable Cox models were used to estimate the intention-to-treat effect of the intervention adjusting for baseline covariates. During a mean follow-up of 9.0 years, 294 incident AF cases were identified. Rates of AF were comparable in the ILI and diabetes support and education groups (6.1 and 6.7 cases per 1,000 person-years, respectively, P = .42). The intervention did not affect AF incidence (multivariable hazard ratio [HR] 0.99, 95% CI 0.77-1.28). Similarly, neither weight loss nor improvement in physical fitness during the first year of the intervention was significantly associated with AF incidence: multivariable hazard ratio (95% CI) comparing top versus bottom quartile was 0.70 (0.41-1.18) for weight loss and 0.88 (0.55-1.43) for physical fitness improvement.

Conclusion: In a large randomized trial of overweight and obese individuals with type 2 diabetes, an ILI that induced modest weight loss did not reduce the risk of developing AF.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00017953.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Atrial Fibrillation / epidemiology
  • Atrial Fibrillation / etiology
  • Atrial Fibrillation / rehabilitation*
  • Behavior Therapy / methods*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / complications*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Life Style*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / rehabilitation
  • Overweight / complications
  • Overweight / rehabilitation
  • Physical Fitness*
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • United States / epidemiology

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT00017953

Grant support