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Saturday 15th June 2019

Heart problem 'avoidable'

30th March 2011

The British Heart Foundation has highlighted a study which suggests over half the cases of the most common heart rhythm disturbance could be avoided by “clean living”.

The findings, published in the journal Circulation, indicate that if individuals were to maintain a healthy weight, normal blood pressure and stop smoking, 57% of cases of atrial fibrillation (AF) could be averted.

Dr Mike Knapton, associate medical director at the BHF, said: “This study shows not only can you identify people with AF and treat them to reduce their risk of stroke, AF can also be prevented in the first place with simple messages about lifestyle changes.”

He said the difficulty was helping people to make healthy choices when their environment and society often encouraged unhealthy options.

Many people are unaware they have AF, though up to 500,000 people in the UK may have it.

While it can be treated with drugs, the Circulation study based on 15,000 patients and conducted at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, shows how much illness could be avoided by simple lifestyle measures.

Dr Alvaro Alonso, who led the research, said: “We now know that a significant proportion of all cases of atrial fibrillation can be avoided. Ideally, if individuals were able to maintain a normal blood pressure and healthy body weight and didn't smoke, not only would it reduce their risks for other forms of cardiovascular disease, such as heart disease and stroke, but it also would significantly impact the risk of developing atrial fibrillation in later life.”.


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