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New Study Finds Link Between Obesity and Atrial Fibrillation

Embargoed for Release:
November 23, 2004

There appears to be an association between obesity and the risk of developing the heart rhythm disorder atrial fibrillation, according to a study of participants in the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's (NHLBI) Framingham Heart Study. The study is published in the November 24 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The investigators studied 5,282 Framingham participants who did not have AF when the study began. These participants were divided into three categories of body mass index (BMI): normal, overweight, and obese. Over a period of almost 14 years, the scientists found that the incidence of atrial fibrillation increased across BMI for both men and women.

These research findings should be confirmed by other observational studies, according to Daniel Levy, M.D., director of the Framingham Heart Study and a study co-author. According to Levy, if the study is validated, weight control, in addition to reducing risk for hypertension, diabetes, and other obesity-related complications, may also lower risk for AF.

To arrange an interview with Dr. Levy, please call the NHLBI Communications Office at (301) 496-4236.

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