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Association of diabetes with atrial fibrillation types: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Salman Razvi



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2021, The Author(s).Background: Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a common arrhythmia classified as paroxysmal and non-paroxysmal. Non-paroxysmal AF is associated with an increased risk of complications. Diabetes contributes to AF initiation, yet its role in AF maintenance is unclear. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to summarize the evidence regarding the association of diabetes with AF types. Methods: We searched 5 databases for observational studies investigating the association of diabetes with the likelihood of an AF type (vs another type) in humans. Study quality was evaluated using the Newcastle–Ottawa Scale. Studies classifying AF types as paroxysmal (reference) and non-paroxysmal were pooled in a meta-analysis using random effects models. Results: Of 1997 articles we identified, 20 were included in our systematic review. The population sample size ranged from 64 to 9816 participants with mean age ranging from 40 to 75 years and percentage of women from 24.8 to 100%. The quality of studies varied from poor (60%) to fair (5%) to good (35%). In the systematic review, 8 studies among patients with AF investigated the cross-sectional association of diabetes with non-paroxysmal AF (vs paroxysmal) of which 6 showed a positive association and 2 showed no association. Fourteen studies investigated the longitudinal association of diabetes with “more sustained” AF types (vs “less sustained”) of which 2 showed a positive association and 12 showed no association. In the meta-analysis of cross-sectional studies, patients with AF and diabetes were 1.31-times more likely to have non-paroxysmal AF than those without diabetes [8 studies; pooled OR (95% CI), 1.31 (1.13–1.51), I2 = 82.6%]. The meta-analysis of longitudinal studies showed that for patients with paroxysmal AF, diabetes is associated with 1.32-times increased likelihood of progression to non-paroxysmal AF [five studies; pooled OR (95% CI), 1.32 (1.07–1.62); I2 = 0%]. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that diabetes is associated with an increased likelihood of non-paroxysmal AF rather than paroxysmal AF. However, further high quality studies are needed to replicate these findings, adjust for potential confounders, elucidate mechanisms linking diabetes to non-paroxysmal AF, and assess the impact of antidiabetic medications on AF types. These strategies could eventually help decrease the risk of non-paroxysmal AF among patients with diabetes.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Alijla F, Buttia C, Reichlin T, Razvi S, Minder B, Wilhelm M, Muka T, Franco OH, Bano A

Publication type: Review

Publication status: Published

Journal: Cardiovascular Diabetology

Year: 2021

Volume: 20

Issue: 1

Print publication date: 01/12/2021

Online publication date: 07/12/2021

Acceptance date: 21/11/2021

ISSN (electronic): 1475-2840

Publisher: BioMed Central Ltd


DOI: 10.1186/s12933-021-01423-2