The link between atrial fibrillation and obesity


Atrial fibrillation is the most common heart rhythm disorder. Atrial fibrillation occurs when rapid and disorganized electrical signals from the two upper chambers of the heart called the atria, contract irregularly and rapidly. As such, the blood is not properly pumped in the two lower chambers called ventricles of the heart, and the heart does not function properly.

atrial fibrillation 2Some of the people with atrial fibrillation may present no symptoms, but others may feel increased number of heartbeats, chest pain, dizziness, fatigue, irregular heartbeat and fainting.

Until now, atrial fibrillation was attributed to one of these factors or a combination of them: hyperthyroidism, alcohol, pulmonary embolism, pneumonia and some cardiac conditions (ventricular wall expansion, coronary artery disease, hypertension, cardiomyopathy, pericarditis, etc.. ).

Research has demonstrated the presence of a correlation between obesity and atrial fibrillation. Obesity is one of the underlying causes of many diseases, some of them quite serious.

Influence of obesity on atrial fibrillation

atrial fibrillation obesityResearchers have confirmed that obesity can modify the size and structure of the heart muscles and how they contract and work (including their electrical function). Fat cells are not just some fat accumulation, but also a risk factor underlying the occurrence of hypertension, and the disruption of glucose and insulin levels, which can directly affect atrial and ventricular myocardium.

Following a large-scale study in which it was analyzed and evaluated the heart health of women over 13 years found that women who were obese face a 41% higher risk in developing atrial fibrillation compared with women who were not overweight.

The same results were obtained after another study has considered healthy women aged between 20 and 50 years during five years. Compared with healthy weight women, those diagnosed with obesity had a twofold risk of developing atrial fibrillation, and those suffering from obesity in an advanced stage had a three times higher risk.

Both studies are relevant enough to support previous research that showed that one of the major risks for cardiovascular health is obesity. Even if these studies had women as subjects, it is believed that the results were similar in men.

In conclusion, it turns out it should be reassessed what causes the manifestation of atrial fibrillation. This disease apparently is not specific for older people being seen in all age groups. However, it looks like obese people are more predisposed to atrial fibrillation.

The role of obesity in triggering atrial fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation is caused by abnormal electrical function of the cardiac system, which triggers rapid and disorganized heartbeats in the upper chambers of the heart. In some cases, the exact cause of atrial fibrillation is not known, but it is known exactly that older age associated with some conditions that can affect heart health are among the main risk factors. Among cardiovascular diseases that may underlie the manifestation of atrial fibrillation include:

During sleep, accumulated fat around the neck at obese people can put pressure on the neck. The neck is compressed and breathing will be hampered. The condition is called obstructive sleep apnea. At those who suffer from this condition, blood oxygen levels will drop and may occur structural and functional changes of the heart that can trigger atrial fibrillation.

The more excess in pounds is higher, the atrial fibrillation is more serious and more persistent.

Weight loss – It may be beneficial?

Experts recommend avoiding excess of pounds and weight loss for the prevention of atrial fibrillation. Even if there is a link between atrial fibrillation and obesity, however, does not mean that obesity causes atrial fibrillation.

It is recommended to maintain, on long-term, a healthy weight to reduce any health risks that you can assume with the presence of obesity, including atrial fibrillation.

Losing weight for a person already suffering from atrial fibrillation might be useful for the treatment of this disease, because obesity increases the risk of triggering other serious medical conditions such as hypertension, heart failure, diabetes and increases the risk probability for stroke – main danger in case of atrial fibrillation.

To protect your health

  • follow a healthy diet with a low content of saturated fat and rich in whole grains, fruits and vegetables;
  • play sports at least 30 minutes, most days of the week;
  • limit salt intake;
  • limit your intake of foods high in sugar;
  • Avoid drinking alcohol.

If there are also present other risk factors that could contribute to the onset of atrial fibrillation, and the person is overweight, losing some pounds could help prevent an atrial fibrillation event.

Remember that atrial fibrillation and obesity are risk factors whose combination may cause stroke.


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