Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Low fasting plasma insulin is associated with atrial fibrillation in men from a cohort study - the Malmö preventive project

Linda SB Johnson*, Tord Juhlin, Gunnar Engström and Peter M Nilsson

Author Affiliations

Department of Clinical Sciences, Lund University, Skåne University Hospital, Inga-Marie Nilssons väg 49, 20502 Malmö, Sweden

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BMC Cardiovascular Disorders 2014, 14:107  doi:10.1186/1471-2261-14-107

Published: 24 August 2014



Type 2 diabetes has been associated with increased incidence of atrial fibrillation (AF) and cardiovascular disease. Controversy remains regarding the role of insulin in the epidemiology of AF risk. The aim of the present study was to study the association between fasting plasma insulin (FPI) and incidence of AF, as well as any effect modification by fasting blood glucose (FBG) or 2 h post-load blood glucose and body mass index (BMI).


The study population consisted of 6052 men and 1014 women followed for an average of 26.2 years. There were 983 cases of incident AF. Analysis was performed using Cox regression and competing risks regression approaches. The population was analysed as a whole, and by subgroups according to glucose levels and BMI.


After adjustment for age, height, weight, systolic blood pressure and smoking there was a significant inverse association between FPI and AF (hazard ratio; HR) for 4th vs. 1st quartile: 0.69 (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.57-0.83, p < 0.0001) in the cohort as a whole. Among men the corresponding values were HR 0.64 (95% CI 0.52-0.78, p < 0.001) and among women HR 1.16 (95% CI 0.69-1.93, p = 0.58); p-value for interaction 0.06. The protective effects of insulin tended to be weaker in subjects with elevated fasting glucose, implying that the relation between FPI and incident AF could be dependent on the status of individual’s glucose metabolism.


High levels of FPI are associated with lower risk of incident AF in a middle-aged population with a long follow-up.

Atrial fibrillation; Fasting plasma insulin; Hypertension; Population