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Stroke risk in women with atrial fibrillation


Background and Aims — Female sex is associated with higher rates of stroke in atrial fibrillation (AF) after adjustment for other CHA2DS2-VASc factors. This study aimed to describe sex differences in age and cardiovascular care to examine their relationship with stroke hazard in AF.

Methods — Population-based cohort study using administrative datasets of people aged >65 years diagnosed with AF in Ontario between 2007 and 2019. Cause-specific hazard regression was used to estimate the adjusted hazard ratio (HR) for stroke associated with female sex over a 2-year follow-up. Model 1 included CHA2DS2-VASc factors, with age modelled as 66–74 vs. ≥ 75 years. Model 2 treated age as a continuous variable and included an age–sex interaction term. Model 3 further accounted for multimorbidity and markers of cardiovascular care.

Results — The cohort consisted of 354 254 individuals with AF (median age 78 years, 49.2% female). Females were more likely to be diagnosed in emergency departments and less likely to receive cardiologist assessments, statins, or LDL-C testing, with higher LDL-C levels among females than males. In Model 1, the adjusted HR for stroke associated with female sex was 1.27 (95% confidence interval 1.21–1.32). Model 2 revealed a significant age–sex interaction, such that female sex was only associated with increased stroke hazard at age >70 years. Adjusting for markers of cardiovascular care and multimorbidity further decreased the HR, so that female sex was not associated with increased stroke hazard at age ≤80 years.

Conclusion — Older age and inequities in cardiovascular care may partly explain higher stroke rates in females with AF.



Buhari H, Fang J, Han L, Austin PC, Dorian P, Jackevicius CA, Yu AYX, Kapral MK, Singh SM, Tu K, Ko DT, Atzema CL, Benjamin EJ, Lee DS, Abdel-Qadir H. Eur Heart J. 2023; Aug 30 [Epub ahead of print].

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