The “Road” to atrial fibrillation: The role of the cardiac autonomic nervous system

Varun Malik, Ricardo Mishima, Adrian D. Elliott, Dennis H. Lau, Prashanthan Sanders

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1 Citation (Scopus)


At the population level, there is a parallel escalation in the healthcare burden of both, atrial fibrillation (AF) as well its risk factors. Compounding this relationship, AF is associated with escalating burden at an individual level, due its self-perpetuating and progressive nature. The mechanisms by which these risk factors interact to produce atrial remodelling and subsequent AF are unclear. This intersection is critical to the development of strategies to combat this disease at both the individual and population-level. It is well known that AF can manifest from disturbances in autonomic activity. At the population level, there is growing data to suggest a role of the autonomic nervous system in the future incidence of AF. Here, we provide an overview of the association of cardiac autonomic dysfunction with the incidence of AF, review the role of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) as an intermediary between risk factors and the development of AF and finally, we discuss the bidirectional relationship between AF and cardiac autonomic nervous system dysfunction; to determine whether this is implicated in the progression of AF.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Atrial Fibrillation
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished or Issued - Jul 2020


  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Autonomic dysfunction
  • Autonomic nervous system
  • Obesity
  • Risk factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

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