Lifestyle and Risk Factor Modification for Reduction of Atrial Fibrillation: A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association

Circulation. 2020 Apr 21;141(16):e750-e772. doi: 10.1161/CIR.0000000000000748. Epub 2020 Mar 9.


Atrial fibrillation (AF), the most common sustained cardiac arrhythmia, is associated with substantial morbidity, mortality, and healthcare use. Great strides have been made in stroke prevention and rhythm control strategies, yet reducing the incidence of AF has been slowed by the increasing incidence and prevalence of AF risk factors, including obesity, physical inactivity, sleep apnea, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and other modifiable lifestyle-related factors. Fortunately, many of these AF drivers are potentially reversible, and emerging evidence supports that addressing these modifiable risks may be effective for primary and secondary AF prevention. A structured, protocol-driven multidisciplinary approach to integrate lifestyle and risk factor management as an integral part of AF management may help in the prevention and treatment of AF. However, this aspect of AF management is currently underrecognized, underused, and understudied. The purpose of this American Heart Association scientific statement is to review the association of modifiable risk factors with AF and the effects of risk factor intervention. Implementation strategies, care pathways, and educational links for achieving impactful weight reduction, increased physical activity, and risk factor modification are included. Implications for clinical practice, gaps in knowledge, and future directions for the research community are highlighted.

Keywords: AHA Scientific Statements; atrial fibrillation; exercise; lifestyle; obesity; risk factors; weight loss.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • American Heart Association
  • Atrial Fibrillation* / epidemiology
  • Atrial Fibrillation* / physiopathology
  • Atrial Fibrillation* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Life Style*
  • Patient Education as Topic*
  • Risk Factors
  • United States / epidemiology