Women with Diabetes at Increased Risk for Irregular Heart Rhythm

According to a study conducted recently, the likelihood that women, if diabetic, could develop Atrial Fibrillation (AF), is increased by 26 percent. AF is a potentially dangerous irregular heart rhythm that could possibly lead to heart failure, stroke and chronic fatigue, as per new findings of a Kaiser Permanente study published in Diabetes Care, October issue; a journal of the American Diabetes Association.

This study involved close to 35,000 Kaiser Permanente patients over a seven-year period – in order to isolate the effect of diabetes and determine that is in an independent risk factor for women. This is the first large study of its kind. Greg Nichols, PhD, investigator at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland, Ore the study’s lead author said, “The most important finding from our study is that women with diabetes have an increased risk of developing this abnormal heart rhythm. Men with diabetes are also at higher risk, but the association between the two conditions is not as strong. For men, obesity and high blood pressure are bigger risk factors from diabetes.”

“AF is the most common arrhythmia in the world, and diabetes is one of the most common and costly health conditions. Our study points out that there is a connection between these two growing epidemics–one we should pay closer attention to, especially among women. The gender differences need to be looked at more closely because they could have significant implications for how we treat diabetes in men and women,” said Sumeet Chugh, MD, co-author and associate director of the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in Los Angeles.
AF happens when the two upper chambers of the heart beat irregularly and too fast, causing blood to pool and clot. Close to 2.2 million Americans are diagnosed with AF while more than 23 million Americans are affected by diabetes. The study indicates that nearly 4 percent, or 1 million, have AF.

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