Taller, overweight women could be at increased risk for AFib

New research from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden has suggested that bigger women, classified as those who are taller than average and are overweight, could be at a greater risk of atrial fibrillation (AFib).

The study, which included more than 1.5 million women, was presented April 7 at EuroPrevent 2017, an annual conference by the European Association of Preventive Cardiology.

Researchers followed study participants for more than 30 years and collected data on their weight, heart, age, diabetes, hypertension and smoking habits.

"Our research has previously shown that a large body size at age 20, and weight gain from age 20 to midlife, both independently increase the risk of atrial fibrillation in men," said Annika Rosengren, the lead author on the study and a professor of internal medicine at the university. "In this study we investigated the impact of body size on atrial fibrillation risk in women."

Results showed that the women were hospitalized with atrial fibrillation at an average age of 49 years old and were at a greater risk than smaller women.

"We found that bigger women have a greater risk of atrial fibrillation," said Professor Rosengren. "There was a stepwise elevation in risk with increasing body size. The group with the highest body surface area had nearly three times the risk as those with the lowest body surface area. Big people - not necessarily fat, but big - have a larger atrium, which is where atrial fibrillation comes from. People with a bigger atrium have a higher risk of atrial fibrillation."