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Hyman, Matthew C.; Levin, Michael G.; Gill, Dipender; Walker, Venexia M.; Georgakis, Marios K.; Davies, Neil M.; Marchlinski, Francis E. and Damrauer, Scott M. (2021): Genetically Predicted Blood Pressure and Risk of Atrial Fibrillation. In: Hypertension, Vol. 77, No. 2: pp. 376-382

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Observational studies have shown an association between hypertension and atrial fibrillation (AF). Aggressive blood pressure management in patients with known AF reduces overall arrhythmia burden, but it remains unclear whether hypertension is causative for AF. To address this question, this study explored the relationship between genetic predictors of blood pressure and risk of AF. We secondarily explored the relationship between genetically proxied use of antihypertensive drugs and risk of AF. Two-sample Mendelian randomization was performed using an inverse-variance weighted meta-analysis with weighted median Mendelian randomization and Egger intercept tests performed as sensitivity analyses. Summary statistics for systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, and pulse pressure were obtained from the International Consortium of Blood Pressure and the UK Biobank discovery analysis and AF from the 2018 Atrial Fibrillation Genetics Consortium multiethnic genome-wide association studies. Increases in genetically proxied systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, or pulse pressure by 10 mm Hg were associated with increased odds of AF (systolic blood pressure: odds ratio [OR], 1.17 [95% CI, 1.11-1.22];P=1x10(-11);diastolic blood pressure: OR, 1.25 [95% CI, 1.16-1.35];P=3x10(-8);pulse pressure: OR, 1.1 [95% CI, 1.0-1.2];P=0.05). Decreases in systolic blood pressure by 10 mm Hg estimated by genetic proxies of antihypertensive medications showed calcium channel blockers (OR, 0.66 [95% CI, 0.57-0.76];P=8x10(-9)) and beta-blockers (OR, 0.61 [95% CI, 0.46-0.81];P=6x10(-4)) decreased the risk of AF. Blood pressure-increasing genetic variants were associated with increased risk of AF, consistent with a causal relationship between blood pressure and AF. These data support the concept that blood pressure reduction with calcium channel blockade or beta-blockade could reduce the risk of AF.

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