Causes and risk factors

Causes and risk factors

Atrial Fibrillation (AF or AFib) induces a slow but progressive process of structural remodelling of the atria. Some structural remodelling can be irreversible which supports the need to treat AF early to avoid more permanent damage.1

Abnormalities or damage to the heart’s structure may be caused by lifestyle, other chronic conditions and non-modifiable factors.1,2,3,4

atrial fibrillation causes

Risk factors for developing AF

AF is a highly common age-related arrhythmia affecting as many as 1 in 4 people over 40 during their lifetime.  It is more common in men who have a 13% higher risk of developing AF compared to women.3 The lifetime risk of developing AF after the age 40 is 26% for men and 23% for women.2

There are a number of both modifiable and non-modifiable risk factors for the development of AF. Modifiable risk factors include hypertension, obesity, endurance exercise, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), thyroid disease, and alcohol consumption. Age, sex, family history, race, tall stature, and other types of heart and valvular disease are all non-modifiable risk factors. Early onset AF has a strong heritable component.1

Among the multiple risk factors involved in the development of AF, age is perhaps the most powerful.2

Click through to read more on the concomitant conditions related to Atrial Fibrillation. 


1. Kirchhof P, Benussi S, Kotecha D, Ahlsson A, Atar D et al. (2016) 2016 ESC Guidelines for the management of atrial fibrillation developed in collaboration with EACTS. Eur Heart J 37 (38): 2893-2962. 2. Calkins H, Hindricks G, Cappato R, Kim YH, Saad EB et al. (2017) 2017 HRS/EHRA/ECAS/APHRS/SOLAECE expert consensus statement on catheter and surgical ablation of atrial fibrillation. Heart Rhythm 14 (10): e275-e444. 3. Lloyd-Jones DM, Wang TJ, Leip EP, Larson MG, Levy D et al. (2004) Lifetime risk for development of atrial fibrillation: the Framingham Heart Study. Circulation 110 (9): 1042-1046. 4. Naser N, Dilic M, Durak A, Kulic M, Pepic E et al. (2017) The Impact of Risk Factors and Comorbidities on The Incidence of Atrial Fibrillation. Mater Sociomed 29 (4): 231-236.

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