Atrial fibrillation tied to many other health woes

By Laura Mize • Published: December 2nd, 2016
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Atrial fibrillation is a serious condition that affects as many as 6 million Americans, according to a 2014 study. This dangerous malady causes the heart to beat erratically. It occurs in the heart’s two upper chambers, limiting blood flow to the lower chambers and thus to the rest of the body. The ailment comes with a serious risk of complications, chiefly a greater chance of stroke.

But a recent study published in the British Medical Journal details one research team’s findings that atrial fibrillation, or a-fib as it is often called, also is linked to a number of other dangerous conditions. The strongest connection, statistically, was between a-fib and heart failure, but it is also linked to kidney disease, major cardiac events and blocked arteries in the limbs. In addition, people with a-fib were more likely to die from heart disease.

The results come from a meta-analysis, or overview study, of about 100 previously published articles on atrial fibrillation. The studies analyzed nearly 9.7 million patients, almost 600,000 of whom had atrial fibrillation.

It is not clear what accounts for the tie between atrial fibrillation and these other problems. Do people with a-fib simply tend to be less healthy in general? Or does atrial fibrillation contribute to these conditions? Perhaps there is an underlying, yet-unknown factor that makes a person more likely to suffer from a-fib and the other ailments.

Whatever the case, health care providers helping those with atrial fibrillation now have much more to consider in fighting for their patients’ health.