How Can Weight Loss Improve Atrial Fibrillation?


Today we’re going to be talking about obesity weight loss and how it can influence your atrial fibrillation. Now obesity is a big problem in the United States and worldwide and it influences a lot of health conditions. People with obesity are much more likely to develop high blood pressure, diabetes, sleep apnea as well as heart disease and heart disease which can also include atrial fibrillation.

Now obesity can influence or increase your risk for getting atrial fibrillation in a variety of ways. Like I said it increases your your risk of developing high blood pressure, diabetes, sleep apnea and all those are risk factors for developing atrial fibrillation. However the obesity itself has been determined that it can also influence you developing aterial fibrillation. Fat cells have been found that they can increase and secrete hormones including inflammatory hormones which can also in themselves increase the risk of atrial fibrillation.

Now for many years now doctors have advised overweight patients who develop atrial fibrillation to lose weight and it’s been emphasized for a while now. However in 2015 there was a very important clinical trial called the legacy trial which really helped to emphasize to doctors and patients why weight loss is such an important feature for the management of atrial fibrillation. In that study over 1,000 patients were studied over a five-year period. So the study took several years and they found that patients who lost over 10% of their body weight had over 6 fold improvement in their aterial fibrillation. Many of those patients were free from atrial fibrillation lost a significant amount of weight.

This is not to say that everybody who loses weight is going to be completely free of aterial fibrillation but it can dramatically improve your burden and your symptoms. So the take away from this very important trial is that one, weight loss is a very important feature in managing patient with arterial fibrillation and you can incredibly improve your symptoms and the frequency of your symptoms with weight loss. Two, this is a long-term situation. To be able to improve atrial fibrillation, weight loss should never be a quick fix. It is something that takes time. You may take some years to reduce weight and get you to the goal weight that you want to be at. But clearly by reducing weight you can have a significant improvement in your amount of atrial fibrillation. It is an important treatment strategy for the long-term management of patients with atrial fibrillation.

Now losing weight is easy – easier said than done. There are many guidelines that people may need and advice people may need in order to be able to lose that weight which I’m going to be writing about in a future article when I write about exercise.

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