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09-01-2012 | Cardiometabolic | Article

High LDL, total cholesterol associated with reduced AF incidence


Free abstract

MedWire News: High levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and total cholesterol are significantly associated with a reduced incidence of atrial fibrillation (AF), suggests and analysis of the ARIC cohort.

However, no association with AF incidence was found for high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and triglycerides.

Furthermore, no association was found between lipid-lowering medication, including statins, and the incidence of AF.

The findings arise from an analysis of nearly 14,000 participants of the Atherosclerosis Risk in communities (ARIC) study who were free from AF at baseline. Individuals' blood lipid profiles were assessed at baseline (1987-1989) and at three follow-up visits (1990-1992, 1993-1995, and 1996-1998). Incidence of AF was assessed through the end of 2007.

Faye Lopez (University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, USA) and colleagues write, in the journal Circulation: Arrhythmia and Electrophysiology, that 1433 incident AF cases occurred during a median follow-up of 18.7 years.

Compared with individuals with LDL cholesterol levels of less than 100 mg/dL (2.59 mmol/L) at baseline, those with levels of 100-159 mg/dL (2.59- 4.12 mmol/L) or 160 mg/dL (4.14 mmol/L) or more had a 16% and 15% lower risk for incident AF, respectively. Those with baseline total cholesterol levels of 240 mg/dL (6.22 mmol/L) or more had a 12% lower risk for incident AF than those with levels of less than 200 mg/dL (5.18 mmol/L).

In addition, each standard deviation increase in LDL and total cholesterol was associated with a 10% and 11% reduction in the risk for incident AF, respectively.

There was no significant association between incident AF and levels of HDL cholesterol or triglycerides.

Lopez et al also assessed the association of the use of statins and other lipid-lowering medications with AF using data for the 13,044 ARIC participants who attended the first follow-up visit.

The team reports no significant association between lipid-lowering medication use and incident AF. There was also no significant association in those taking statins compared with those taking other cholesterol medications.

"Future research should replicate these results and study potential mechanisms," write the authors. They add: "At this time, there is still insufficient data to recommend the use of statins solely for AF prevention."

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2012

By Nikki Withers

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