American College of Cardiology
American College of Cardiology
March 18, 2020
2 min read

Cancer confers twofold risk for development of AF

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Patients with cancer may experience more than double the risk for atrial fibrillation compared with the general population.

In addition, patients with colon, prostate and lung cancer may experience greater risk for AF than patients with other cancer types, according to findings presented at the American College of Cardiology Scientific Session.

Researchers found that AF was associated with prostate (3.6%), lung (2.78%), colon (2.27%), breast (3.31%), pancreas (0.28%), leukemia (0.98%), non-Hodgkin lymphoma (1.18%), Hodgkin lymphoma (0.1%) and thoracic (0.03%) cancers compared with the general population (P = .001 for all).

Among the cohort of 143,211,398 participants from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample, prevalence of AF was 10.12%. In addition, researchers observed a 50% increased risk for AF in patients with colon, prostate and lung cancer.

Researchers found no significant association between thyroid carcinoma and AF.

“When we looked at everyone with some form of AF, those with certain types of cancer were more likely to have heart rhythm abnormalities, and this trend persisted even after accounting for other cardiovascular risk factors and disease,” Muhammad Khan, MD, resident at St. Mary Medical Center in Langhorne, Pennsylvania, said in a press release. “We found 2.3-fold increased odds of having AF with all cancers studied. There was a greater than 50% increased risk of AF in prostate, colon and lung cancer patients. Of these three, those with prostate cancer had the highest risk of AF.”

Compared with the general population, after adjustment for various CV risk factors, risk for AF was 2.35-fold higher in those with any cancer, 1.63-fold higher in those with prostate cancer, 1.6-fold higher in those with lung cancer, 1.53-fold in those with colon cancer, 1.43-fold higher in those with breast cancer, 0.94-fold higher in those with pancreatic cancer, 1.34-fold higher in those with leukemia, 1.44-fold higher in those with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, 0.92-fold higher in those with Hodgkin lymphoma and 1.44-folder higher in those with thoracic cancer.

In other findings, researchers observed elevated mortality in patients with prostate cancer (2.31% vs. 3.28%), non-Hodgkin lymphoma (1.61% vs. 1.64%) and colon cancer (2.2% vs. 2.46%), if they had AF compared with not having it (P .001 for all).

“These cancers may be associated with higher mortality due to circulating procoagulants and greater systemic inflammation, but this relationship has yet to be studied,” Khan said in the release. “Based on our findings, certain patients should be considered at higher risk of AF and may benefit from cardiac evaluation and appropriate treatments, whether it be with medication or ablative techniques, to help improve the survival rates in the long term.”

Khan stated in the release that researchers need to investigate which inflammatory markers may have strong associations with the development of AF and to better understand how to treat AF and possibly prevent its onset in patients with cancer. – by Scott Buzby


Khan M, et al. Abstract 1216-235. Presented at: American College of Cardiology Scientific Session; March 28-30, 2020 (virtual meeting).

Disclosure: Khan reports no relevant financial disclosures.