Monday, December 29, 2008

Cigarette smoking and risk of atrial fibrillation: The Rotterdam Study

Offering yet another reason to never start smoking, a new study finds that both current and former smokers run an elevated risk of the heart rhythm disorder atrial fibrillation. The condition is one of the most widespread heart conditions. During an episode of AF, abnormal electrical activity in the heart causes its upper two chambers to beat in a rapid, uncoordinated rhythm; the arrhythmia itself is not life-threatening, but over time AF can contribute to stroke or heart failure in some people. While smoking is a well-known risk factor for heart disease, it has not been clear whether the habit boosts the risk of AF specifically. The new findings, reported in the American Heart Journal, suggest that it does - even after a smoker quits. Researchers found that of nearly 5 700 Dutch adults age 55 and older, current smokers and former smokers were about 50 percent more likely to develop AF over 7 years

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