Evaluation of Risk Prediction Models of Atrial Fibrillation (from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis [MESA])

Joshua D. Bundy*, Susan R. Heckbert, Lin Y. Chen, Donald M. Lloyd-Jones, Philip Greenland

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Atrial fibrillation (AF) is prevalent and strongly associated with higher cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk. Machine learning is increasingly used to identify novel predictors of CVD risk, but prediction improvements beyond established risk scores are uncertain. We evaluated improvements in predicting 5-year AF risk when adding novel candidate variables identified by machine learning to the CHARGE-AF Enriched score, which includes age, race/ethnicity, height, weight, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, current smoking, use of antihypertensive medication, diabetes, and NT-proBNP. We included 3,534 participants (mean age, 61.3 years; 52.0% female) with complete data from the prospective Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. Incident AF was defined based on study electrocardiograms and hospital discharge diagnosis ICD-9 codes, supplemented by Medicare claims. Prediction performance was evaluated using Cox regression and a parsimonious model was selected using LASSO. Within 5 years of baseline, 124 participants had incident AF. Compared with the CHARGE-AF Enriched model (c-statistic, 0.804), variables identified by machine learning, including biomarkers, cardiac magnetic resonance imaging variables, electrocardiogram variables, and subclinical CVD variables, did not significantly improve prediction. A 23-item score derived by machine learning achieved a c-statistic of 0.806, whereas a parsimonious model including the clinical risk factors age, weight, current smoking, NT-proBNP, coronary artery calcium score, and cardiac troponin-T achieved a c-statistic of 0.802. This analysis confirms that the CHARGE-AF Enriched model and a parsimonious 6-item model performed similarly to a more extensive model derived by machine learning. In conclusion, these simple models remain the gold standard for risk prediction of AF, although addition of the coronary artery calcium score should be considered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)55-62
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Cardiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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