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Atrial Fibrillation and Obesity

Though the cause of atrial fibrillation (AF) is not always clear, there are certain factors that are known to contribute to its onset, including cardiac disease and other medical conditions such as diabetes and lung disease.  Another risk factor for AF is obesity, which is especially concerning since the incidence of obesity is increasing in Ireland. According to a study published in The Lancet, by 2025 37% of women and 38% of men in Ireland will be categorised as obese. 

The association between AF and obesity is well-established based on multiple studies in Europe.  A further study carried out in the USA states that patients who are obese are more likely to develop AF, and this incidence of AF is more likely to be persistent. 

Overweight patients may also have associated conditions that can increase the risk of AF, including diabetes, high blood pressure and raised cholesterol. 

A study carried out in Australia found that patients with AF who were referred to a weight management program were six times less likely to have recurrent AF if they sustained a weight loss of ≥10% versus patients who lost less or no weight. 

Patients who undergo catheter ablation treatment for AF and who have good management of their weight and related risk factors have a much better outcome than those who do not.  In fact a study showed that patients with obesity had an almost 40% increased risk of recurrent AF following catheter ablation versus those with normal weight.