Men develop a dangerous type of irregular heartbeat called atrial fibrillation a decade earlier than women, a new study suggests. And being overweight increased odds for the condition in both sexes, those extra pounds were more troublesome for males, the German researchers found.
“It’s crucial to better understand modifiable risk factors of atrial fibrillation,” said study author Dr. Christina Magnussen. “If prevention strategies succeed in targeting these risk factors, we expect a noticeable decline in now-onset atrial fibrillation,” added Magnussen, a specialist in internal medicine and cardiology at the University Heart Center in Hamburg.
A-Fib means the upper chambers of the heart, or atria, quiver instead of beat. In the new 13-year study, the condition tripled the odds of dying prematurely. According to the American Heart Association statistics, as many as 6 million Americans have atrial fibrillation, with those numbers likely doubling by 2030.
In this study, researchers examined the medical records of nearly 80,000 people, aged 24 to 97, in Europe who initially did not have atrial fibrillation. Later assessments showed than more than 6% of men and over 4% of women had been diagnosed with A-Fib.
Risk of diagnosis accelerated sharply in men after 50 and in women after 60. By age 90, nearly one-quarter of men and women were told they had atrial fibrillation, the study found.
The researchers also found a link between atrial fibrillation and higher blood levels of an inflammation marker called C-reactive protein. In addition, the association between atrial fibrillation and being overweight or obese was stronger in men (31%) and in women (18%), they reported.
The study was published Oct. 16in the journal Circulation.
The two risk factors this study mentions are being overweight or obese and having a high C-reactive protein (CRP). Other modifiable risk factors for A-Fib include exercise, quality of sleep and reducing stress.
Clinically, I find that monitoring the quality of sleep is the best barometer for predicting the patient’s response to treatment for A-Fib. If you are sleeping well, then your circadian rhythm is in sync. That indicates cortisol levels are normal and you are adapting well to your stressors.
Initially, I use Chaste Tree to improve the quality of sleep. Gymnema is added if there is evidence of insulin resistance. An adrenal adaptogen like Ashwaganda will help restore the damage to the adrenal glands caused by stress.
To calm the heart, a low dose vitamin B2 and B3 supplement is very effective. However, I also restrict the intake of vitamin B1 (thiamine) as it is very stimulating to the heart. In fact, I think that grains fortified with synthetic vitamin B1 are a factor in the dramatic increase in A-Fib all developed nations are experiencing.
Magnesium can also calm the heart, but it is most effective at reducing tachycardia, the rapid heart rate often associated with A-Fib. I titrate to bowel tolerance as unabsorbed magnesium has a laxative effect. It is fascinating that bowel tolerance for magnesium will increase dramatically when stress levels rise and fall as the body recovers from any new stressor.
The CRP is one of the most important blood tests run to evaluate the risk for CVA (cardiovascular accident). It is a measure of arterial inflammation and is a much more valid indicator than total cholesterol, HDL or LDL levels. Unfortunately, few physicians order this test prior to prescribing statin drugs.
The Bottom Line:
A-Fib is on the increase because our lifestyle habits are getting worse as a population. Treatment for A-Fib should be lifestyle modification rather than rat poison and ablation therapy.
Source: October 16, 2017 National Institutes of Health