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Big women have greater risk of atrial fibrillation

The research from the European Society of Cardiology has run for three decades. The headline is that big women have almost a threefold greater risk of atrial fibrillation compared with small women. This is based on an assessment of the medical records of 1.5 million women across a period of over 30 years.

Atrial fibrillation is an abnormal heart rhythm characterized by rapid and irregular beating. Sometimes this is manifest as heart palpitations, fainting, lightheadedness, shortness of breath, or chest pain. Having the condition leads to a greater risk of heart failure, dementia, and stroke. The trigger factors are high blood pressure and valvular heart disease. The condition is associated with women over 60 years of age.

Contextualizing the results, lead researcher Professor Annika Rosengren, (Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Sweden) said: that previous research has shown that a large body size at age 20, and weight gain from age 20 to midlife, both increase the risk of atrial fibrillation in men. The new study takes a look at women.

Reviewing the medical reports from 1,522,358 women, who, by average had a first pregnancy aged 28 years proved illuminating. The researchers screened the data against a number of factors, including: pregnancy, height, age, diabetes, hypertension and smoking. This was then correlated with hospitalization events due to atrial fibrillation.

The key finding was that women with a body surface area, based on square meters, in the range of 1.71 to 3.02 square meters, had a 2.6 greater chance of developing atrial fibrillation. Here Professor Rosengren states: “We found that bigger women have a greater risk of atrial fibrillation. There was a stepwise elevation in risk with increasing body size. The group with the highest body surface area had nearly three times the risk as those with the lowest body surface area.”

The findings also revealed a size-age factor, with the issue of weight becoming more important the older a woman becomes. The research has yet to be published. However the findings have been reported to a conference called EuroPrevent 2017, which was held over the first weekend in April 2017.

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