Solar and geomagnetic activity enhance the effects of air pollutants on atrial fibrillation

Carolina L.Zilli Vieira, Mark S. Link, Eric Garshick, Adjani A. Peralta, Heike Luttmann-Gibson, Francine Laden, Man Liu, Diane R. Gold, Petros Koutrakis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aims: Cardiac arrhythmias have been associated with intense solar and geomagnetic activity (SGA) and exposures to air pollution. Methods and results: We examined whether oscillations of SGA can modify the effect of hourly exposures to air pollutants on atrial fibrillation ≥30 s (AF) risk in patients with dual-chamber implantable cardioverter-defibrillators. The effects of SGA on ambient particulate matter <2.5 μm (PM2.5), black carbon (BC), ultrafine particles (PN), and associations with AF were assessed. Measures of SGA included solar wind proton density (SW), total interplanetary magnetic field strength (IMF), and Kp index, a measure of global geomagnetic activity. Overall time lags between 0 and 24 h, periods of increased SGA (>50th percentile in IMF, SW, and Kp index) enhanced the effects of all three air pollutants on AF, while during periods of reduced SGA the associations were considerably weaker or absent. During periods of intense SW 6 h prior to an AF event, the odds ratio (OR) for PM2.5 exposure per interquartile range (IQR) of 5.6 μg/m3 was 1.7 [95% confident interval (CI) 1.3-2.3, P = 0.0001]. For periods of reduced SW, the OR for PM2.5 exposure per IQR was 1.2 (95% CI 0.9-1.5; P = 0.27). There were similar effects for PN and BC exposures. In patients with multiple AF events per hour, the associations with air pollutants during intense SGA were even greater. Conclusion: The effects of air pollutants up to 24 h before AF events were enhanced during periods of increased SGA. Our results suggest that these effects may account for variation in AF risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)713-720
Number of pages8
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2022


  • Air pollution
  • Arrhythmias
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Cardiovascular outcomes
  • Geomagnetic activity
  • Solar activity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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