Examining Mental Disorders and Atrial Fibrillation Risk

Published studies have shown that mental disorders are common risk factors for cardiovascular diseases (CVD); however, according to Hao Wu and colleagues, the relationship between psychological factors and atrial fibrillation remains unclear. They conducted a meta-analysis and concluded that “adverse psychological factors such as anxiety, anger, depression, and work stress may increase the risk of atrial fibrillation.”

The study, published in the International Journal of Cardiology, collected articles from the PubMed, Embase, Web of Science, and Cochrane Library databases up to January 2022. The researchers used random- and fixed-effect models to calculate pooled hazard ratios (HRs). The Newcastle-Ottawa Scale (NOS) also was used to assess bias risk in non-randomized studies.

Mental Disorders and Atrial Fibrillation Findings

Among 13 published reports comprising 5 329 908 participants, the authors found incidence of atrial fibrillation increased by:

  • 10% (HR, 1.10; 95% CI, 1.02-1.19; I2 = 33.6%; P=.013; n = 235 599 in 6 studies) for patients with anxiety
  • 15% (HR, 1.15; 95% CI, 1.04-1.26; I2 = 40.2%; P=.04; n = 21 791 in 3 studies) for patients with anger
  • 25% (HR, 1.25; 95% CI, 1.12-1.39; I2 = 57.4%; P<.001; n = 5 160 247 in 6 studies) for patients with depression
  • 18% (HR, 1.18; 95% CI, 1.05-1.32; I2 = 19.2%; P=.004; n = 51 664 in 4 studies) for patients with work stress

The authors proposed that “interventions to prevent mental disorders may reduce the growing global burden of atrial fibrillation and its associated health care costs.” They also said that, “given the current study’s limitations, our findings need to be further confirmed by a larger prospective study.”

Find more recent studies on the Atrial Fibrillation Knowledge Hub