Atrial Fibrillation: Are You at Risk?

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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.

Age

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

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.

Gender and race

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

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.

Weight

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.

Having sleep apnea

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

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.