March 18, 2009

Atrial fibrillation riskier for diabetics

Australian cardiologists warn atrial fibrillation in diabetic patients increases risk of death.

The researchers advise clinicians to control risk factors -- such as blood pressure and cholesterol -- more aggressively in diabetic patients with the abnormal heart rhythm called atrial fibrillation.

This is a separate issue to rate and rhythm control -- or the use of anti-coagulants to prevent thromboembolic events -- which is the usual therapeutic focus in patients with atrial fibrillation, study leader Anushka Patel of the University of Sydney said in a statement.

The international, randomized, controlled trial of 11,140 type 2 diabetes patients found patients with atrial fibrillation at the start of the trial had a 61 percent increased risk of dying from any cause, a 77 percent increased risk of dying from cardiovascular causes such as a heart attack or stroke and a 68 percent increased risk of developing cardiovascular problems than diabetic patients who did not have atrial fibrillation.

However, the researchers also found the risks of dying or developing cardiovascular complications reduced in diabetic atrial fibrillation patients aggressively treated with a combination of blood pressure lowering drugs.

The findings are published in the European Heart Journal.