Atrial Fibrillation: Are You at Risk?

HealthAfter50 | Sep 16th 2016 Oct 19th 2016

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What to know

Multiple factors can contribute to the development of the abnormal functioning of the heart’s upper chambers, which leads to the sensation of a fast, irregular, and chaotic heartbeat. The condition, atrial fibrillation (also known as AF or AFib), affects 2.6 million Americans.

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Your age is a key factor—atrial fibrillation is rare before age 50, whereas 1 in 10 people age 80 have it.

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Family history

If a first-degree relative (sibling or parent) has atrial fibrillation, there’s a doubling of the likelihood that other members of the family will develop it.

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Gender and race

Atrial fibrillation is also more common in men than in women, and it is more common in whites than blacks.

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Alcohol consumption

Although some alcohol consumption may help protect against heart disease, your heart may pay a price if you drink excessively. That’s because heavy alcohol intake may affect the structure and size of the heart.

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Your risk of developing atrial fibrillation may rise in tandem with your weight. More and more data has confirmed the link between obesity and AFib.

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Having sleep apnea

Atrial fibrillation is very common in patients with obstructive sleep apnea. But once diagnosed, treatment of sleep apnea helps control Afib.

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Other health conditions

Atrial fibrillation is also associated with high blood pressure,, coronary heart disease, diabetes, an overactive thyroid, and pneumonia, and it commonly develops after cardiac surgery.