How Your Diet May Increase Your Risk Of Atrial Fibrillation



In today’s world, the dietary habits of average people are much different in comparison with the ones that were prevalent over a decade ago. This is due to a whole range of reasons including an increase in the production of different types of foods as well as work and stress levels of the common folks.

The young adults at the moment are indulged in their work and do not take out time for themselves. Hence, their daily diet is filled with unhealthy foods.

In addition, there are now a variety of diets that people follow and can easily access due to the presence of the internet. The biggest example of popular diets is the low-carb diet that is recommended by every other person from beauty bloggers to celebrities.

Low-carb diets are deemed as ‘magical’ by its followers as it gives results in a very short period in comparison with other diets.

People typically see results within two-three weeks. Although such diets can be helpful for people who need to lose weight immediately for some event or for another health issue, research shows that dietary habits such as these may also cause negative effects.

Recently, a new study has linked low-carb diets with a health condition known as atrial fibrillation which is one of the most common heart rhythm-related disorder. The research was presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 68th Annual Scientific Session.

Read more on the study here. 

How Was the Study Conducted?

In order to see the connection between developing atrial fibrillation and a low presence of carbohydrates in the diet, the researchers looked at the health records of over 14,000 people for a time period of over two decades. So far, it is the largest study conducted on the issue of effects of low-carb diets on the health of the heart.

Atrial fibrillation is an issue which causes the heart to have irregularities in its beats and rhythm. This increases the risk of further health conditions such as fatigue, heart palpitations, and dizziness.

Furthermore, people suffering from this issue also have five times higher chances of a stroke. In some cases, it may even cause heart failure.

Even though this study had some findings similar to those of previous research studying the effects of high and low carbohydrate diets on the health, its conclusion of the replacement dietary food taken in place of carbohydrates in the diet was different.

The past studies showed that the nature of the replacement also had an effect on the overall pattern which is in contrast with the findings of the new study.

Consequently, the lead author of the study Xiaodong Zhuang, MD, Ph.D., who is also a cardiologist at the hospital affiliated with Sun Yat-Sen University in Guangzhou, China says:

“Low carbohydrate diets were associated with increased risk of incident AFib regardless of the type of protein or fat used to replace the carbohydrate,”

The main data source of the study came from one of the National Institute of Health’s studies known as the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities that was held during the years 1985-2016. Out of some 14,000 participants who did not have atrial fibrillation at the beginning of the study, 1,900 developed the condition in the 22 years follow up.

During this time period, the participants had to name at least 66 of their daily consumed food items which the researchers used to estimate the carb-intake using Harvard Nutrient Database. Then, the participants were divided into high, moderate, and low groups depending on their carbohydrate intake.

What Were the Results?

The researchers noted that the participants belonging to the low-carb intake were most likely to develop atrial fibrillation in comparison with those from moderate and high groups.

There may be two possible explanations for this – the lack of vegetables and fruits leads to higher inflammation in the body which in turn increases the risk of atrial fibrillation or it may be due to oxidative stress caused by high protein intake.

According to the team, while these findings are important and show a clear link, they cannot confirm and cause and effect relationship. Hence, further research is needed to know more about this connection.


















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Hilary Jensen

Hilary is a Literature graduate with expertise in Creative Writing. Her writing interests are mental health, ethics, and news reporting. You will find her work associated with relevant research and references that shows her passion for delivering authentic information to readers.


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