Association and Impact of Hypertension Defined Using the 2017 AHA/ACC Guidelines on the Risk of Atrial Fibrillation in ARIC Cohort

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Medicine and Health Sciences


Hypertension is an established risk factor for the development of atrial fibrillation (AF). We evaluated the association and population impact of hypertension defined using the new 2017 guidelines on risk of AF. In this analysis, we included 9,207 participants in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities prospective cohort without history of cardiovascular disease. Participants underwent blood pressure measurements at baseline. AF was ascertained from study electrocardiograms, hospital records and death certificates. Cox proportional models were used to estimate hazard ratios (HR) and 95% confidence intervals (95%CI) of AF among individuals with hypertension based on the JNC7 and 2017 ACC/AHA guidelines. Poisson models were used to obtain risk ratios and calculate population-attributable fractions (PAFs). We identified 1573 cases of incident AF during the study period. Prevalence of hypertension was 29% and 43% under the JNC7 and 2017 ACC/AHA definitions, respectively. HRs (95%CI) of AF in hypertensives versus non-hypertensives were 1.6 (1.5, 1.8) and 1.5 (1.4, 1.7) after adjusting for age, sex and race under the old and new guidelines, respectively. The corresponding PAF (95%CI) using the old and new guidelines were 12% (9%, 14%) and 14% (10%, 18%), respectively. Overall, our analysis shows that even though the prevalence of hypertension using the new criteria is 50% higher than with the old criteria, this does not translate in meaningful increases in AF attributable to hypertension. These results indicate that prevention or treatment of hypertension based on the new (versus old) guidelines may have a limited impact on AF incidence.


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