Body size and risk of atrial fibrillation: A cohort study of 1.1 million young men

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: Whilst tall stature has been related to lower risk of vascular disease, it has been proposed as a risk factor for atrial fibrillation. Little is known about other anthropometric measures and their joint effects on risk of atrial fibrillation. Objectives: We aim to investigate associations and potential joint effects of height, weight, body surface area (BSA) and body mass index (BMI) with risk of atrial fibrillation. Methods: In a cohort covering 1 153 151 18-year-old men participating in the Swedish military conscription (1972-1995), Cox regression was used to investigate associations of height, weight, BSA and BMI with risk of atrial fibrillation. Results: During a median of 26.3 years of follow-up, higher height was associated with higher risk of atrial fibrillation (hazard ratio [HR] 2.80; 95% CI 2.63-2.98; for 5th vs. 1st quintile) and so was larger BSA (HR 3.05; 95% CI 2.82-3.28; for 5th vs. 1st quintile). Higher weight and BMI were to a lesser extent associated with risk of atrial fibrillation (BMI: 1.42; 95% CI 1.33-1.52, for 5th vs. 1st quintile). We found a multiplicative joint effect of height and weight. Adjusting for muscle strength, exercise capacity and diseases related to atrial fibrillation attenuated these measures. Conclusions: Higher height and weight are strongly associated with higher risk of atrial fibrillation. These associations are multiplicative and independent of each other and are summarized in a strong association of body surface area with risk of atrial fibrillation. The mechanisms remain unknown but may involve increased atrial volume load with larger body size.


  • K. Andersen
  • F. Rasmussen
  • M. Neovius
  • P. Tynelius
  • J. Sundström
External organisations
  • Uppsala University
  • Karolinska Institutet
  • Stockholm County Council
  • Uppsala University Hospital
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Cardiac and Cardiovascular Systems


  • Atrial fibrillation, Body mass Index, Body surface area, Height, Weight
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)346-355
JournalJournal of Internal Medicine
Issue number4
Early online date2017 Dec
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Publication categoryResearch