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Risk of atrial fibrillation in athletes: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Newman, William, Parry-Williams, Gemma, Wiles, Jonathan, Edwards, Jamie, Hulbert, Sabina, Kipourou, Konstantina, Papadakis, Michael, Sharma, Rajan, O'Driscoll, Jamie (2021) Risk of atrial fibrillation in athletes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. British Journal of Sports Medicine, . ISSN 0306-3674. E-ISSN 1473-0480. (doi:10.1136/bjsports-2021-103994) (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:89269)

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Objective A systematic review, meta-analysis and meta-regression were performed on selected studies to investigate the incidence of atrial fibrillation (AF) among athletes compared with non-athlete controls.

Design Meta-analysis with heterogeneity analysis and subsequent meta-regression to model covariates were performed. The mode of exercise (endurance and mixed sports) and age were the a priori determined covariates.

Data sources PubMed, MEDLINE, Science Direct, SPORTDiscus and the Cochrane library were searched.

Eligibility criteria Research articles published after 1990 and before 2 December 2020 were included if they reported the number of AF cases in athletes with non-athlete (physically active or inactive) control groups, were case–control or cohort studies and if data allowed calculation of OR.

Results The risk of developing AF was significantly higher in athletes than in non-athlete controls (OR: 2.46; 95% CI 1.73 to 3.51; p<0.001, Z=4.97). Mode of exercise and risk of AF were moderately correlated (B=0.1259, p=0.0193), with mixed sport conferring a greater risk of AF than endurance sport (B=−0.5476, p=0.0204). Younger (<55 years) athletes were significantly more likely to develop AF compared with older (≥55 years) athletes (B=−0.02293, p<0.001).

Conclusion Athletes have a significantly greater likelihood of developing AF compared with non-athlete controls, with those participating in mixed sport and younger athletes at the greatest risk. Future studies of AF prevalence in athletes according to specific exercise dose parameters, including training and competition history, may aid further in delineating those at risk.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1136/bjsports-2021-103994
Uncontrolled keywords: atrial fibrillation
Subjects: R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC1200 Sports medicine
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research > Centre for Health Services Studies
Depositing User: Helen Wooldridge
Date Deposited: 14 Jul 2021 11:14 UTC
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2022 12:27 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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