April 6, 2009

Big men at risk of atrial fibrillation

Men who were large during their 20s face an increased risk of atrial fibrillation, or abnormal heart rhythm, as they age, Swedish researchers say.

Researchers at the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden say the study was initiated in 1970 and involved more than 7,000 men living in Gothenburg ages 45-55, who were examined and asked questions about their lifestyle. The subjects were asked to state their weight at age 20.

The research material was compared with the National Patient Register.

The study reveals that the risk of atrial fibrillation increases linearly with both body size and weight gain. The study, published in the European Heart Journal, finds that the larger the men were in their 20s and the more weight they gained during their life, the greater the risk of atrial fibrillation.

Study author Annika Rosengren said the fact that the men were big in their youth does not mean that they were obese. Obesity in young men was extremely unusual during the 1930s and 1940s, and these big men were simply tall and well-built.