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Athletes Have Higher Risk for Developing Atrial Fibrillation

Risk greater in athletes younger than 55 years and among those participating in mixed sport versus endurance sport

Athletes Have Higher Risk for Developing Atrial Fibrillation

TUESDAY, July 13, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- Athletes have a significantly greater likelihood of developing atrial fibrillation versus nonathletes, according to a systematic review and meta-analysis published online July 12 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

William Newman, from Canterbury Christ Church University in the United Kingdom, and colleagues conducted a systematic literature review and meta-analysis to assess the incidence of atrial fibrillation among athletes versus nonathletes.

Based on 13 studies included in a meta-analysis, the risk for developing atrial fibrillation was significantly higher in athletes versus nonathletes (odds ratio, 2.46). There was a moderate correlation between mode of exercise and risk for atrial fibrillation (B = 0.1259), with mixed sport carrying a higher risk for atrial fibrillation than endurance sport (B = −0.5476). Compared with older athletes (55 years and older), athletes younger than 55 years of age were significantly more likely to develop atrial fibrillation (B = −0.02293).

"Athletes have a significantly greater likelihood of developing atrial fibrillation compared with nonathlete controls," the authors write. "Younger aged athletes have a greater relative risk of atrial fibrillation compared with older athletes; however, exercise dose parameters, including training and competition history, as well as potential gender differences for the risk of atrial fibrillation [require] future research."

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