HealthDay News — Incremental increases in body mass index are associated with excess risk of incident, postoperative, and post-ablation atrial fibrillation, results of a review published in JACC: Clinical Electrophysiology indicate.

One-fifth of all atrial fibrillation (AF) can be accounted to obesity, noted Christopher X. Wong, MBBS, of the University of Adelaide in Australia, and colleagues. “From a public health perspective, obesity, therefore, is a modifiable risk factor that could be profitably targeted,” wrote the researchers.

To quantify the magnitude of association between incremental increases in body mass index (BMI) and the development of incident, post-operative, and post-ablation AF, the investigators conducted a systematic and meta-analysis of 51 studies including 626,603 individuals.

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For every five unit BMI increase there were greater excess risks of incident AF in cohort and case-control studies (odds ratios, 1.29 and 1.19, respectively). For every five unit increase in BMI, greater excess risks of postoperative and post-ablation AF were identified (odds ratios, 1.10 and 1.13, respectively).

“Incremental increases in BMI are associated with a significant excess risk of AF in different clinical settings,” concluded the scientists.

“By providing a comprehensive and reliable quantification of the relationship between incremental increases in obesity and AF across different clinical settings, our findings highlight the potential for even moderate reductions in population body mass indices to have a significant impact in mitigating the rising burden of AF.”


  1. Wong CX et al. JACC: Clinical Electrophysiology. 2015; doi: 10.1016/j.jacep.2015.04.004.


Two authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical and medical device industries.