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Healthy lifestyles could halve cases of atrial fibrillation


March 29, 2011 - Washington

A new study suggests that reducing cardiovascular risk factors like high Blood Pressure, smoking, Diabetes and being overweight could potentially reduce more than half of all cases of atrial fibrillation.

More than 2 million Americans live with atrial fibrillation (AF), an irregular heart rhythm that occurs when the heart's two upper chambers beat erratically, causing the chambers to pump blood rapidly, unevenly and inefficiently.

"We now know that a significant proportion of all cases of atrial fibrillation can be avoided," said Alvaro Alonso, co-author of the study and assistant professor of epidemiology and community health at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health in Minneapolis.

"Ideally, if individuals were able to maintain a normal Blood Pressure and healthy body weight and didn't smoke, not only would it reduce their risks for other forms of cardiovascular disease, such as heart disease and stroke, but it also would significantly impact the risk of developing atrial fibrillation in later life," he added.

In the study, 57 percent of the AF episodes were linked to specific risk factors, including high Blood Pressure, smoking, Diabetes, overweight and other heart diseases. Of these risks, high blood pressure was the strongest predictor, accounting for more than one-fifth of all cases.

Population risk estimates showed that having one or more elevated risk factor level could explain 50 percent of AF events.

The research is reported in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

ANI

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