Quality of Life Experiences among Women with Atrial Fibrillation: Findings from an Online Survey

Womens Health Issues. 2016 May-Jun;26(3):288-97. doi: 10.1016/j.whi.2016.03.007. Epub 2016 Apr 16.


Background: Although atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common abnormal heart rhythm in men and women, there are gender differences. Mortality for women with AF can be 2.5 times greater than for men. AF risk among women is also greater than in men when patients have additional conditions. Women are more likely to experience longer symptomatic episodes, more recurrences, and higher ventricular rates during AF. We sought to explore presentation, comorbidities, treatment, and quality-of-life issues among women with AF.

Methods: A convenience sample of 332 women with AF completed a 58-item online survey fielded for 2 weeks in April 2015.

Results: Of the respondents, 94% were Caucasian; 76% consumed four or fewer servings of fruits or vegetables per day; 43% engaged in moderate physical activity for 10 minutes 3 or fewer days per week; 41% had a body mass index (BMI) of greater than 30 kg/m(2); and 85% had never attended an AF support group. Women with AF often juggle many health conditions. Almost none had participated in an AF clinical trial. The ability to complete activities of daily living was associated significantly and positively with fruit/vegetable consumption and physical activity and significantly and negatively associated with BMI. Self-efficacy was associated significantly with physical activity and support group attendance. Open-ended comments showed many women patients have outstanding questions about their AF.

Conclusions: AF education resources should underscore the positive physical and mental health effects of increasing fruit/vegetable consumption and physical activity. Caregivers, clinicians, and women with AF need to be made aware of the benefits of support groups, whether in-person or online, and clinical trials. Future research should engage in effective recruitment of non-White women with AF.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Atrial Fibrillation / complications
  • Atrial Fibrillation / psychology*
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Status
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life*
  • Self Efficacy
  • Social Support*
  • Stroke / etiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult