Athletes may have more than twice the risk of irregular heartbeat

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Athletes appear to be almost two and a half times more likely than non-athletes to experience irregular heart rhythms (atrial fibrillation), new research published in the study suggests. British Journal of Sports Medicine.

In addition, it seems that athletes who participate in mixed sports such as football, rugby or netball have the highest risk compared to athletes who participate in endurance sports such as cross-country skiing, orienteering or rowing. .

Previous studies have shown this may improve cardiovascular health and is associated with a reduction in illness and death, but they have suggested that there is a threshold beyond which exposure to increasing levels of exercise is related to heart problems, including fibrillation. atrial fibrillation, a condition that can increase the risk of stroke, heart failure, and other heart-related problems.

British researchers led by Canterbury Christ Church University in Canterbury set out to review existing studies on the subject and explore what impact the type of sport in which athletes participated had on their risk of atrial fibrillation to reach a more conclusive picture of the overall prevalence of athletes. .

They reviewed and analyzed 13 suitable studies that were published between 1990 and December 2020 and that had analyzed athletes who participated in sports such as cycling, running, swimming, cross-country skiing, orienteering, rowing, football, rugby and netball. .

The 13 studies included data from 70,478 participants, collectively, which included 63,662 controls and 6,816 athletes.

The authors found that the risk of atrial fibrillation was 2.46 times higher among athletes than those who were not athletes.

When the authors divided the studies into those involving participants with and without cardiovascular disease risk factors (such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease) ), found that there were no significant differences in the relative risk of atrial fibrillation in athletes and non-athletes with these risk factors.

However, in athletes and non-athletes without athletes had a significantly higher relative risk (3.7 times higher) of atrial fibrillation than those who were not athletes.

In addition, younger athletes (under 55) had a much higher risk (3.6 times) of atrial fibrillation than older athletes (55 and older) who were 76% more likely to of suffering from the disease than those who were not athletes.

The analysis also showed that athletes who participated in mixed sports instead of endurance had a higher risk of atrial fibrillation.

Her study had some limitations, such as the fact that she analyzed research with different approaches, such as case control and cohort design, and there was limited data on women athletes, making it difficult to examine the relative risk of fibrillation. headset by gender.

However, the researchers conclude: “Athletes are significantly more likely to develop atrial fibrillation compared to controls.

“Younger athletes have a higher relative risk of attrition compared to older athletes; however, exercise dose parameters, including training and competition history, as well as possible gender differences due to the risk of suffering requires future research “.


Left atrial fibrosis may explain an increased risk of arrhythmias in endurance athletes


More information:
Risk of atrial fibrillation in athletes: systematic review and meta-analysis, British Journal of Sports Medicine (2021). DOI: 10.1136 / bjsports-2021-103994

Citation: Athletes May Have More Than Double the Risk of Irregular Heart Rate (2021, July 12) Recovered on July 12, 2021 at https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-07 .html

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