A polygenic risk score predicts atrial fibrillation in cardiovascular disease

Eur Heart J. 2023 Jan 14;44(3):221-231. doi: 10.1093/eurheartj/ehac460.


Aims: Interest in targeted screening programmes for atrial fibrillation (AF) has increased, yet the role of genetics in identifying patients at highest risk of developing AF is unclear.

Methods and results: A total of 36,662 subjects without prior AF were analyzed from four TIMI trials. Subjects were divided into quintiles using a validated polygenic risk score (PRS) for AF. Clinical risk for AF was calculated using the CHARGE-AF model. Kaplan-Meier event rates, adjusted hazard ratios (HRs), C-indices, and net reclassification improvement were used to determine if the addition of the PRS improved prediction compared with clinical risk and N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP). Over 2.3 years, 1018 new AF cases developed. AF PRS predicted a significant risk gradient for AF with a 40% increased risk per 1-SD increase in PRS [HR: 1.40 (1.32-1.49); P < 0.001]. Those with high AF PRS (top 20%) were more than two-fold more likely to develop AF [HR 2.45 (1.99-3.03), P < 0.001] compared with low PRS (bottom 20%). Furthermore, PRS provided an additional gradient of risk stratification on top of the CHARGE-AF clinical risk score, ranging from a 3-year incidence of 1.3% in patients with low clinical and genetic risk to 8.7% in patients with high clinical and genetic risk. The subgroup of patients with high clinical risk, high PRS, and elevated NT-proBNP had an AF risk of 16.7% over 3 years. The C-index with the CHARGE-AF clinical risk score alone was 0.65, which improved to 0.67 (P < 0.001) with the addition of NT-proBNP, and increased further to 0.70 (P < 0.001) with the addition of the PRS.

Conclusion: In patients with cardiovascular conditions, AF PRS is a strong independent predictor of incident AF that provides complementary predictive value when added to a validated clinical risk score and NT-proBNP.

Keywords: Atrial fibrillation; Genetics; Natriuretic peptides; Polygenic risk score; Risk prediction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Atrial Fibrillation* / complications
  • Atrial Fibrillation* / epidemiology
  • Atrial Fibrillation* / genetics
  • Biomarkers
  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / genetics
  • Humans
  • Natriuretic Peptide, Brain
  • Peptide Fragments
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Factors


  • Biomarkers
  • Natriuretic Peptide, Brain
  • Peptide Fragments