Inflammation Plays Important Role in Atrial Fibrillation

Statins and angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors among most promising treatments

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Inflammation is now widely held to be an independent risk factor for the initiation and maintenance of atrial fibrillation, and various drugs show promise as means of modulating its effects, according to a paper published in the Nov. 20 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Tim T. Issac, M.D., of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, and colleagues conducted a review of published literature on inflammation and atrial fibrillation, the most commonly presented arrhythmia, affecting 2.3 million people in the United States.

The connection between atrial fibrillation and inflammation is already well-established, the authors write. In atrial fibrillation patients, inflammatory biomarkers such as interleukin-6 and C-reactive protein are elevated and correlated to longer duration of the condition. However, the pathogenesis of atrial fibrillation is still only partially understood, with studies suggesting that inflammation brings about electrical and structural atrial changes.

As for potential treatments to counteract the effect of inflammation and inhibit cardiac remodeling, statins, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and angiotensin II receptor blockers have shown the most potential. However, "current evidence does not support the administration of statins and angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors/angiotensin II receptor blockers for the sole purpose of preventing atrial fibrillation, because many of the current published reports available were retrospective and observational in nature, with limited sample size," the authors write.

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