Circulating electrolytes and the prevalence of atrial fibrillation and supraventricular ectopy: The Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study

Alvaro Alonso, Mary R. Rooney, Lin Y. Chen, Faye L. Norby, Amy K. Saenger, Elsayed Z. Soliman, Wesley T. O'Neal, Katie C. Hootman, Elizabeth Selvin, Pamela L. Lutsey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background and aims: Evaluating associations of circulating electrolytes with atrial fibrillation (AF) and burden of supraventricular arrhythmias can give insights into arrhythmia pathogenesis. Methods and results: We conducted a cross-sectional analysis of 6398 participants of the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study, ages 71–90, with data on serum electrolytes (magnesium, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, chloride, sodium). Prevalence of AF was determined from electrocardiograms and history of AF hospitalizations. A subset of 317 participants also underwent electrocardiographic recordings for up to 14 days using the Zio® patch. Burden of other supraventricular arrhythmias [premature atrial contractions (PACs), supraventricular tachycardia] was determined with the Zio® patch. We used logistic and linear regression adjusting for potential confounders to determine associations of electrolytes with arrhythmia prevalence and burden. Among 6394 eligible participants, 614 (10%) had AF. Participants in the top quintiles of magnesium [odds ratio (OR) 0.82, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.62, 1.08], potassium (OR 0.82, 95%CI 0.68, 1.00), and phosphorus (OR 0.73, 95%CI 0.59, 0.89) had lower AF prevalence compared to those in the bottom quintiles. No clear association was found for circulating chloride, calcium or sodium. Higher concentrations of circulating calcium were associated with lower prevalence of PACs in the 12-lead electrocardiogram, while higher concentrations of potassium, chloride and sodium were associated with higher PAC prevalence. Circulating electrolytes were not significantly associated with burden of PACs or supraventricular tachycardia among 317 participants with extended electrocardiographic monitoring. Conclusion: Concentrations of circulating electrolytes present complex associations with selected supraventricular arrhythmias. Future studies should evaluate underlying mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1121-1129
Number of pages9
JournalNutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jun 25 2020


  • Arrhythmia
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Calcium
  • Electrolytes
  • Magnesium
  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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