Physical activity types and atrial fibrillation risk in the middle-aged and elderly: The Rotterdam Study
Background: The association between physical activity and atrial fibrillation remains controversial. Physical activity has been associated with a higher and lower atrial fibrillation risk. These inconsistent results might be related to the type of physical activity. We aimed to investigate the association of total and types of physical activity, including walking, cycling, domestic work, gardening and sports, with atrial fibrillation. Design: Prospective cohort study. Methods: Our study was performed in the Rotterdam Study, a prospective population-based cohort. We included 7018 participants aged 55 years and older with information on physical activity between 1997–2001. Cox proportional hazards models were used to examine the association of physical activity with atrial fibrillation risk. Models were adjusted for biological and behavioural risk factors and the remaining physical activity types. Physical activity was categorised in tertiles and the low group was used as reference. Results: During 16.8 years of follow-up (median: 12.3 years, interquartile range: 8.7–15.9 years), 800 atrial fibrillation events occurred (11.4% of the study population). We observed no association between total physical activity and atrial fibrillation risk in any model. After adjustment for confounders, the hazard ratio and 95% confidence interval for the high physical activity category compared to the low physical activity category was: 0.71 (0.80–1.14) for total physical activity. We did not observe a significant association between any of the physical activity types with atrial fibrillation risk. Conclusion: Our results suggest that physical activity is not associated with higher or lower risk of atrial fibrillation in older adults. Neither total physical activity nor any of the included physical activity types was associated with atrial fibrillation risk.