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BMI

Obesity in Young Women Doubles Chance of A-Fib

Report by Lynn Haye, March 3, 2013

A 2012 Danish study found that obese, fertile younger women had a 2 to 3-fold higher risk of developing A-Fib than their normal weight counterparts. Previously it was unknown whether obesity increased the risk of A-Fib in young people without other risk factors.  This study adjusted for other risk factors while analyzing the effect of weight on the development of new-onset A-Fib. These findings suggest that strategies to promote weight loss may also decrease the burden of A-Fib.

The study employed the use of the Body Mass Index (see formula below) to categorize the women according to weight. For example, a 5’4” woman would have the following BMI calculations:

BMI Weight
Normal 18.5-24.9 108-145 lbs.
Overweight  25-29.9 146-174 lbs.
Obese 30-35 175-204 lbs.
Very obese >35 >204 lbs.

Statistical analysis revealed a hazard ratio of 2.04 in the obese women or a 2-fold greater risk than normal weight women of developing A-Fib. A hazard ratio 3.50 in the very obese women showed an even greater 3-fold risk of developing A-Fib compared to normal weight women.  These findings were significant and add another potential risk factor for ‘Lone A-Fib’.

Image courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net

Obesity & increased the risk of A-Fib in young females?

This was a unique study that analyzed the data from a national Danish Registry.  The research identified 271,203 women (aged 20-50, mean age of 30.6 years) from a nationwide register of childbirths and hospitalizations in Denmark. The women had all given birth between 2004 – 2009 and did not have prior histories of A-Fib.

The women were followed for an average of 4.6 years during which time 110 were hospitalized for first-time A-Fib.  Due to the nature of the data base, the investigators were able to adjust for age, comorbidities, hyperthyroidism, smoking status, pharmacotherapy and previous use of beta-blockers during pregnancy.  However, they were unable to adjust for either alcohol use or diagnoses of sleep apnea either at baseline or during follow-up.

The primary researcher, Dr. Deniz Karasoy, concluded that; “….obesity increases the risk of new-onset atrial fibrillation in seemingly healthy fertile women.”  He states that; “Dietary modifications combined with physical exercise are warranted in obese fertile women to decrease their risk of atrial fibrillation.”

BMI Formula
English  BMI = Weight in Pounds / ( Height in inches x Height in inches )  x 703
Metric BMI = Weight in Kilograms / ( Height in Meters x Height in Meters )

For more about Women’s Health and Atrial Fibrillation, see Women with A-Fib: Mother Nature and Gender Bias.

References for this Article
Photo of Lynn Haye, PhD

Lynn Haye, PhD

LYNN HAYE, PhD, is a clinical psychologist and former A-Fib patient. She studies and writes about current trends in the treatment and diagnosis of atrial fibrillation and has a special interest in women’s health issues. Dr. Haye and her family live in Orange County, CA.

Last updated: Sunday, May 28, 2017

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