Aim: To examine the association between socioeconomic position and the risk of atrial fibrillation (AF) in different stages of life in a population of Danish citizens.
Methods: Register-based study. We followed all individuals turning 35, 50, 65 or 80 years from 1 January 1996 to 31 December 2005 until AF, death, emigration or the end of study period (31 December 2015). Exposure was education and income. We used Cox regression for the HRs (95% CI) and the pseudo-observation method for the adjusted risk difference (RD) (%).
Results: A total of 2 173 857 participants were enrolled and 151 340 incident cases of AF occurred over a median of 13.6 years of follow-up. Adjusted HR (95% CI) of incident AF for the youngest age group with the highest education (ref lowest) was 0.62 (0.50 to 0.77) (women) and 0.85 (0.76 to 0.96) (men). The associations attenuated with increasing age, that is, HRs for the oldest age group were 1.04 (0.97 to 1.10) and 0.98 (0.96 to 1.04), respectively. The corresponding adjusted RDs (%) were: -0.28 (-0.43 to -0.14), -0.18 (-0.36 to -0.01), 3.04 (-0.55 to 6.64) and -0.74 (-3.38 to 2.49), respectively. Similar but weaker associations were found for income.
Conclusion: Higher level of education and income was associated with a lower risk of being diagnosed with AF in young individuals but the association decreased with increasing age and was almost absent for the oldest age cohort. However, since AF is relatively rare in the youngest the RDs were low.
Keywords: atrial fibrillation; cohort study; incidence; social inequality; socioeconomic position.
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