Irregular heartbeat increases risk for other serious cardiac conditions

New research published in the BMJ suggests that an irregular heartbeat is linked to other serious conditions, some that can be fatal.

Atrial fibrillation can cause heart attacks, heart failure, chronic kidney disease and even sudden cardiac death, according to the study published last week. Prior research shows that stroke is associated with atrial fibrillation, but this new research reveals that other conditions besides stroke have higher risk factors.

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Oxford in the U.K. and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, analyzed results of more than 100 studies involving nine million participants, 500,000 of whom had or have atrial fibrillation.

Results showed that an irregular heartbeat doubles the risk of dying from a heart condition. Additionally, the risk of heart failure increases five fold and the risk of kidney disease raises by 64 percent.

“The absolute risk increase for heart failure was the highest among the outcomes examined,” the authors wrote in the study. “Associations between atrial fibrillation and these outcomes were broadly consistent across subgroups and in sensitivity analyses."