Atrial Fibrillation Risk Factors

The Incidence of Atrial Fibrillation is set to increase in the coming decades. Thus, physicians are attempting to formulate an action plan to bypass the growing crisis. But what’s...

The Incidence of Atrial Fibrillation is set to increase in the coming decades. Thus, physicians are attempting to formulate an action plan to bypass the growing crisis. But what’s the origin of the condition? While the specific source of Atrial Fibrillation remains unknown, the disease is much more prevalent in some particular groups more than others. Being in some of the risk groups predisposes one to develop the condition if you have not developed it already. Therefore, it’s important to be aware of the risk factors related to Afib for the exact same reason. Keep reading to understand what to look out for.

7. Age

As we get older, we become more vulnerable to a range of health conditions. Apart from the hot-button age-related difficulties, people become vulnerable to developing Atrial Fibrillation as birthday candles accumulate. The cause of this is that by the time most people clock six decades, they probably have an underlying heart disease. Aging, as you may already know, makes one more vulnerable to emphysema, diabetes, myocarditis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, in addition to other heart conditions. These cardiovascular problems can finally contribute to Atrial Fibrillation.

In other situations, age alone may be the culprit. Since the heart grows older, also, it pumps blood less efficiently, which might lead to Atrial Fibrillation. Moreover, arteries stiffen as a person grows older. The stiffening of the arteries causes high blood pressure and increases the workload of the heart. Over time, the increased workload can thicken the muscle walls of the ventricles via a process called ventricular hypertrophy. The extra pressure causes the heart to be more irritable, leading to more beats than normal, resulting in Atrial Fibrillation.

6. Heart Diseases and Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial Fibrillation is very likely to develop in people who have a history of cardiovascular disease. In case you have had a heart attack or heart failure before, then you should be cautious of developing AF. Similarly, people with heart valve disease, endocarditis (heart muscle or lining inflammation), hypertension, diabetes, recent heart surgery, congenital heart defects, pulmonary embolism, and asthma are at a greater risk of developing Afib.

5. High Blood Pressure

Hypertension is particularly a substantial risk element. High blood pressure often increases your heart’s workload, triggering Atrial Fibrillation. In any case, high blood pressure increases one’s risk of stroke, that is the largest complication Atrial Fibrillation can result in .

4. Alcohol

There are instances where a healthy person develops Atrial Fibrillation after drinking alcohol in excess. Excessive alcohol intake may also exacerbate an already abnormal rhythm. However, it’s notable that people vary in their susceptibility to alcohol. Though some do not have any issues with the heart even after years of heavy drinking, others create arrhythmia only after a couple of months of drinking.

But how exactly does alcohol consumption relate to Atrial Fibrillation? In the majority of cases of Atrial Fibrillation, there are particular areas in the atrium that play the role of triggers. The areas  are often within the muscle bundles of pulmonary veins. Studies indicate that alcohol can occasionally induce these’portions of cells that are irritable to start shooting. The specific manner in which alcohol creates these nests of cells that are irritable is a puzzle. But what is clear is that alcohol triggers the release of adrenaline, placing somebody on’high alert’ What’s more, alcohol also impairs sleep. Unsurprisingly, these effects together often create an optimum environment for Atrial Fibrillation.

3. Family History and Atrial Fibrillation

Some studies suggest that family history has a large part to play in Atrial Fibrillation. A group of Massachusetts researchers did a survey on participants at a Framingham Heart Study where they found that people who have a relative with Atrial Fibrillation–for instance, a sibling or parent –are 40%  more likely to obtain the condition that people who don’t have any history of this disease in their families.

While there’s absolutely no straightforward answer the condition shows up in certain households, several physicians assert most likely due to changes in certain particular genes. Other doctors believe the condition is because of a combination of inherited Atrial Fibrillation risk factors like obesity, high blood pressure, and family lifestyle options such as consuming foods high in fat and sodium.

2. Abnormal Thyroid Gland

Studies now show that people with hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid gland) are more likely to develop Afib compared to people with normal thyroid function. According to researchers, doctors now should pay more attention to patients with hyperthyroidism. Hyperthyroidism, for starters, happens when the thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone, leading to speedier bodily functions.

Recently, a group of researchers from Denmark set out to determine the risk of Atrial Fibrillation Concerning the whole arc of thyroid disorder in a large group of patients. They followed a whopping 586,460 patients who’d had thyroid function blood test between the year 2000 and 2010. The researchers found out that patients with hyperthyroidism were in a 30% greater risk of Atrial Fibrillation. The investigators pointed out that although there’s a close connection between hyperthyroidism and Atrial Fibrillation. But, they couldn’t establish a direct cause-and-effect connection between both. They reasoned that those patients with thyroid disease need to regularly visit their doctors to receive a screening for Atrial Fibrillation.

1. Sleep Apnea

Medical care providers are now starting to understand the overlap between sleep apnea and Atrial Fibrillation. It’s also emerging that addressing these two conditions may result in better outcomes. From the U.S. alone, a whopping 18 million people suffer from sleep apnea, while 100 million people globally have the problem. Sleep apnea is a condition where breathing becomes badly constricted or ceases altogether during sleep. Long-term untreated sleep apnea may cause several of cardiovascular conditions such as stroke, high blood pressure, and Atrial Fibrillation.

According to a study in the Journal of American College of Cardiology, the dangers of having an abnormal heartbeat or arrhythmia are 18 times higher only after an apnea event compared to if breathing is normal during sleep. Recent studies also indicate that sleep apnea does not have to be severe to raise the possibility of Atrial Fibrillation.

In conclusion, it is very important that patients who suffer with any of the listed conditions, or who are in their golden years, to select regular screenings to be sure they’re not growing Atrial Fibrillation.