Objective To quantify the association between atrial fibrillation and cardiovascular disease, renal disease, and death.
Design Systematic review and meta-analysis.
Data sources Medline and Embase.
Eligibility criteria Cohort studies examining the association between atrial fibrillation and cardiovascular disease, renal disease, and death. Two reviewers independently extracted study characteristics and the relative risk of outcomes associated with atrial fibrillation: specifically, all cause mortality, cardiovascular mortality, major cardiovascular events, any stroke, ischaemic stroke, haemorrhagic stroke, ischaemic heart disease, sudden cardiac death, congestive heart failure, chronic kidney disease, and peripheral arterial disease. Estimates were pooled with inverse variance weighted random effects meta-analysis.
Results 104 eligible cohort studies involving 9 686 513 participants (587 867 with atrial fibrillation) were identified. Atrial fibrillation was associated with an increased risk of all cause mortality (relative risk 1.46, 95% confidence interval 1.39 to 1.54), cardiovascular mortality (2.03, 1.79 to 2.30), major cardiovascular events (1.96, 1.53 to 2.51), stroke (2.42, 2.17 to 2.71), ischaemic stroke (2.33, 1.84 to 2.94), ischaemic heart disease (1.61, 1.38 to 1.87), sudden cardiac death (1.88, 1.36 to 2.60), heart failure (4.99, 3.04 to 8.22), chronic kidney disease (1.64, 1.41 to 1.91), and peripheral arterial disease (1.31, 1.19 to 1.45) but not haemorrhagic stroke (2.00, 0.67 to 5.96). Among the outcomes examined, the highest absolute risk increase was for heart failure. Associations between atrial fibrillation and included outcomes were broadly consistent across subgroups and in sensitivity analyses.
Conclusions Atrial fibrillation is associated with an increased risk of death and an increased risk of cardiovascular and renal disease. Interventions aimed at reducing outcomes beyond stroke are warranted in patients with atrial fibrillation.