People with a heart-rhythm
disorder called atrial fibrillation have a nearly two-fold increased risk of
heart attack, and the risk is especially high in women and blacks, a new study
About 3 million people in
the United States have atrial fibrillation, a number expected to double in the
next couple decades, said study lead author Dr Elsayed Soliman, director of the
Epidemiological Cardiology Research Centre at the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Centre
in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Heart attack is a known
risk factor for atrial fibrillation, but it wasn't clear if the reverse was
true. In order to answer that question, researchers looked at data from nearly
24 000 people, more than 1 600 of whom had atrial fibrillation.
Nearly two times higher
There were about 650 heart
attacks among all the study participants over seven years. The heart attack
rate was nearly two times higher among people with atrial fibrillation than
among those without the heart-rhythm disorder.
The results suggest a
"bidirectional relationship" between heart attack and atrial
fibrillation. That means that one can lead to the other, said the authors of
the study, which was published online in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.
is a disease of ageing and it is common, costly and has lots of
complications," Soliman said in a medical centre news release. "Our
study showed that patients with [atrial fibrillation] especially women and
African-Americans are at an increased risk of heart attack compared to those
without [atrial fibrillation]."
The findings add to the
growing concerns of the seriousness of atrial fibrillation as a public-health
burden, the researchers said.
The study found an
association between atrial fibrillation and increased risk of heart attack, but
it didn't prove cause-and-effect.
The US National Heart,
Lung, and Blood Institute have more about Atrial