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      Gender Differences in Atrial Fibrillation: A Review of Epidemiology, Management, and Outcomes

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          Abstract

          Atrial fibrillation is the most common sustained cardiac arrhythmia. The scope and impact of atrial fibrillation are wide; it can affect cardiac function, functional status, and quality of life, and it confers a stroke risk. There are sex differences in atrial fibrillation across the scope of the disease process, from epidemiology and causative mechanisms to management and outcomes. The approach to management of atrial fibrillation differs between women and men, and there are sex differences in response to medical therapy and catheter ablation. There are many gaps in our knowledge of the gender differences in atrial fibrillation, and many opportunities for future research.

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          Most cited references 69

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          A comparison of rate control and rhythm control in patients with atrial fibrillation.

          There are two approaches to the treatment of atrial fibrillation: one is cardioversion and treatment with antiarrhythmic drugs to maintain sinus rhythm, and the other is the use of rate-controlling drugs, allowing atrial fibrillation to persist. In both approaches, the use of anticoagulant drugs is recommended. We conducted a randomized, multicenter comparison of these two treatment strategies in patients with atrial fibrillation and a high risk of stroke or death. The primary end point was overall mortality. A total of 4060 patients (mean [+/-SD] age, 69.7+/-9.0 years) were enrolled in the study; 70.8 percent had a history of hypertension, and 38.2 percent had coronary artery disease. Of the 3311 patients with echocardiograms, the left atrium was enlarged in 64.7 percent and left ventricular function was depressed in 26.0 percent. There were 356 deaths among the patients assigned to rhythm-control therapy and 310 deaths among those assigned to rate-control therapy (mortality at five years, 23.8 percent and 21.3 percent, respectively; hazard ratio, 1.15 [95 percent confidence interval, 0.99 to 1.34]; P=0.08). More patients in the rhythm-control group than in the rate-control group were hospitalized, and there were more adverse drug effects in the rhythm-control group as well. In both groups, the majority of strokes occurred after warfarin had been stopped or when the international normalized ratio was subtherapeutic. Management of atrial fibrillation with the rhythm-control strategy offers no survival advantage over the rate-control strategy, and there are potential advantages, such as a lower risk of adverse drug effects, with the rate-control strategy. Anticoagulation should be continued in this group of high-risk patients. Copyright 2002 Massachusetts Medical Society
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            Independent risk factors for atrial fibrillation in a population-based cohort. The Framingham Heart Study.

            To determine the independent risk factors for atrial fibrillation. Cohort study. The Framingham Heart Study. A total of 2090 men and 2641 women members of the original cohort, free of a history of atrial fibrillation, between the ages of 55 and 94 years. Sex-specific multiple logistic regression models to identify independent risk factors for atrial fibrillation, including age, smoking, diabetes, electrocardiographic left ventricular hypertrophy, hypertension, myocardial infarction, congestive heart failure, and valve disease. During up to 38 years of follow-up, 264 men and 298 women developed atrial fibrillation. After adjusting for age and other risk factors for atrial fibrillation, men had a 1.5 times greater risk of developing atrial fibrillation than women. In the full multivariable model, the odds ratio (OR) of atrial fibrillation for each decade of advancing age was 2.1 for men and 2.2 for women (P < .0001). In addition, after multivariable adjustment, diabetes (OR, 1.4 for men and 1.6 for women), hypertension (OR, 1.5 for men and 1.4 for women), congestive heart failure (OR, 4.5 for men and 5.9 for women), and valve disease (OR, 1.8 for men and 3.4 for women) were significantly associated with risk for atrial fibrillation in both sexes. Myocardial infarction (OR, 1.4) was significantly associated with the development of atrial fibrillation in men. Women were significantly more likely than men to have valvular heart disease as a risk factor for atrial fibrillation. The multivariable models were largely unchanged after eliminating subjects with valvular heart disease. In addition to intrinsic cardiac causes such as valve disease and congestive heart failure, risk factors for cardiovascular disease also predispose to atrial fibrillation. Modification of risk factors for cardiovascular disease may have the added benefit of diminishing the incidence of atrial fibrillation.
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              Electrical, contractile and structural remodeling during atrial fibrillation.

              The natural history of atrial fibrillation (AF) is characterized by a gradual worsening with time. The recent finding that AF itself produces changes in atrial function and structure has provided a possible explanation for the progressive nature of this arrhythmia. Electrical remodeling (shortening of atrial refractoriness) develops within the first days of AF and contributes to an increase in stability of AF. However, 'domestication of AF' must also depend on a 'second factor' since the persistence of AF continues to increase after electrical remodeling has been completed. Atrial contractile remodeling (loss of contractility) leads to a reduced atrial transport function after cardioversion of AF. An important clinical consequence is that during several days after restoration of sinus rhythm, the risk of atrial thrombus formation is still high. In addition, the reduction of atrial contractility during AF may enhance atrial dilatation which may add to the persistence of AF. Tachycardia-induced structural remodeling takes place in a different time domain (weeks to months). Myolysis probably contributes to the loss of atrial contractile force. Although it might explain the loss of efficacy of pharmacological cardioversion and the development of permanent AF, the role of structural remodeling in the progression of AF is still unclear. Atrial structural remodeling also occurs as a result of heart failure and other underlying cardiovascular diseases. The associated atrial fibrosis might explain intra-atrial conduction disturbances and the susceptibility for AF. Thus, both AF itself and the underlying heart disease are responsible for the development of the arrhythmogenic substrate. New strategies for prevention and termination of AF should be build on our knowledge of the mechanisms and time course of AF-induced atrial remodeling.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Curr Cardiol Rev
                Curr Cardiol Rev
                CCR
                Current Cardiology Reviews
                Bentham Science Publishers
                1573-403X
                1875-6557
                May 2019
                May 2019
                : 15
                : 2
                : 136-144
                Affiliations
                School of Medicine, Emory University, 1639 Pierce Drive, WMB 308 Atlanta, GA 30322, , United States
                Author notes
                [* ]Address correspondence to this author at the School of Medicine, Emory University, 1639 Pierce Drive, WMB 308 Atlanta, GA 30322, United States; Tel: 917-379-6760; E-mail: swester@ 123456emory.edu
                Article
                CCR-15-136
                10.2174/1573403X15666181205110624
                6520576
                30516110
                © 2019 Bentham Science Publishers

                This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial 4.0 International Public License (CC BY-NC 4.0) ( https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/legalcode), which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

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