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Smoking Linked to Raised Risk of Irregular Heartbeat, Study Finds

FRIDAY, Aug. 5 (HealthDay News) -- Smoking increases the risk of developing a heart rhythm disorder called atrial fibrillation, a new study warns.

U.S. researchers reviewed data from more than 15,000 people, aged 45 to 64, who were followed for an average of 13 years, and found that there were 876 atrial fibrillation events during that time.

The risk of the abnormal heart rhythm was 1.32 times higher in former smokers and two times higher in current smokers, compared to people who never smoked, according to the report in the August issue of the journal HeartRhythm.

Atrial fibrillation "is a serious health issue that decreases quality of life and significantly increases the risk of stroke," co-author Alanna M. Chamberlain, of the department of health sciences research at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., said in a journal news release.

About 160,000 new cases of atrial fibrillation are diagnosed each year in the United States. Previous research has identified a number of risk factors for atrial fibrillation, including obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about atrial fibrillation.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: HeartRhythm, news release, Aug. 2, 2011

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