No causal link between COVID-19 and atrial fibrillation

29 Nov 2021
No causal link between COVID-19 and atrial fibrillation

Patients with the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), even those genetically predisposed to the disease, are not at increased risk of developing atrial fibrillation (AF), and vice versa, a study has found.

Researchers conducted a two-sample Mendelian randomization (MR) analysis to examine the bidirectional causal associations between COVID-19 and AF.

Summary genetic association estimates for risk of COVID-19 were obtained from the most recent genome-wide association studies (GWAS) data from the COVID-19 host genetics initiative in the UK Biobank cohort. The data involved four phenotypes, as follows: (1) COVID-19 (n=38,984) vs population (n=1,644,784), (2) hospitalized COVID-19 (n=3,159) vs not hospitalized COVID-19 (n=7,206); (3) hospitalized COVID-19 (n=9,986) vs population (n=1,877,672); (4) very severe respiratory confirmed COVID-19 (n=5,101) vs population (n=1,383,241).

For AF, GWAS data were drawn from 31 studies, which included 18,398 patients and 91,536 control participants. Majority of the participants were of European ancestry.

Results showed no significant association between genetically predicted severe COVID-19 and the risk of AF (odds ratio [OR], 1.111, 95 percent confidence interval [CI], 0.971–1.272; p=0.127). Likewise, genetically predicted AF had no causal link to severe COVID-19 (OR, 1.016, 95 percent CI, 0.976–1.058; p=0.430). The same was true between hospitalized COVID-19 and AF.

There was no evidence of directional pleiotropy on MR-Egger regression.

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