Relationship Between Psychosocial Stressors and Atrial Fibrillation in Women >45 Years of Age

Am J Cardiol. 2018 Nov 15;122(10):1684-1687. doi: 10.1016/j.amjcard.2018.07.044. Epub 2018 Aug 17.


Negative emotions have been linked to the development of atrial fibrillation (AF), and positive effect may be protective. However, there are few large-scale studies examining the association between psychosocial stressors that may provoke these emotions and the occurrence of AF. We examined the cross-sectional relation between psychosocial stress and AF in 24,809 women participating in the Women's Health Study. Participants answered questions about work stress (e.g., excessive work, conflicting demands), work-family spillover stress (e.g., too stressed after work to participate in activities with family), financial stress (e.g., difficulty paying monthly bills), traumatic life events (e.g., death of a child), everyday discrimination (e.g., less respect, poor service), intimate partner stress (e.g., how judgmental is your spouse/partner), neighborhood stress (e.g., neighborhood safety, trust), negative life events within 5 years (e.g., life threatening illness, legal problems), and cumulative stress (a weighted measure of the stress domains). The prevalence of confirmed AF was 3.84% (N = 953) and risk factor profiles differed by AF status. Women with AF reported significantly higher financial stress, traumatic life events, and neighborhood stress (peach < 0.05). Only traumatic life events (odds ratio 1.37, 95% confidence interval 1.19 to 1.59) was significantly associated with AF after adjustment for cardiovascular risk factors, socioeconomic and psychosocial status. These large-scale cross-sectional data thus indicate a potential relationship between traumatic life events and AF in older women.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Atrial Fibrillation / epidemiology
  • Atrial Fibrillation / etiology*
  • Atrial Fibrillation / psychology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Emotions*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Prevalence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Stress, Psychological / complications*
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Women's Health*