AIMS : The aim of this study was to investigate the association between within-individual changes in physical activity and onset of atrial fibrillation (AF).
METHODS AND RESULTS : A total of 1410 participants from the general population (46.2% women, mean age 74.7 ± 4.1 years) with risk factors but with no prior AF diagnosis underwent continuous monitoring for AF episodes along with daily accelerometric assessment of physical activity using an implantable loop recorder during ≈3.5 years. The combined duration of monitoring was ≈1.6 million days, where 10 851 AF episodes lasting ≥60 min were detected in 361 participants (25.6%) with a median of 5 episodes (2, 25) each. The median daily physical activity was 112 (66, 168) min/day. A dynamic parameter describing within-individual changes in daily physical activity, i.e. average daily activity in the last week compared to the previous 100 days, was computed and used to model the onset of AF. A 1-h decrease in average daily physical activity was associated with AF onset the next day [odds ratio 1.24 (1.18-1.31)]. This effect was modified by overall level of activity (P < 0.001 for interaction), and the signal was strongest in the tertile of participants with lowest activity overall [low: 1.62 (1.41-1.86), mid: 1.27 (1.16-1.39), and high: 1.10 (1.01-1.19)].
CONCLUSIONS : Within-individual changes in physical activity are associated with the onset of AF episodes as detected by continuous monitoring in a high-risk population. For each person, a 1-h decrease in daily physical activity during the last week increased the odds of AF onset the next day by ≈25%, while the strongest association was seen in the group with the lowest activity overall.
CLINICAL TRIAL REGISTRATION: ClinicalTrials.gov, identifier: NCT02036450.