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Atrial fibrillation onset is linked to an increased death risk in women

May 24, 2011|By Shari Roan, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
  • Death rates are higher just after the onset of atrial fibrillation in women, study finds.
Death rates are higher just after the onset of atrial fibrillation in women,… (Jose J. Santos / Los Angeles…)

Atrial fibrillation is an irregular heart rhythm that is affecting more Americans. A new study shows that women with atrial fibrillation are at higher risk of a premature death in the period just after the problem begins. The research suggests that when the arrhythmia is first detected in women -- even otherwise healthy, middle-aged people -- doctors should look for other cardiovascular disease and provide therapy to prevent heart disease, heart attacks and strokes.

The findings are from the Women's Health Study, a project following more than 34,000 healthy, middle-aged women for 15 years. The researchers found higher death rates among the women with new-onset atrial fibrillation. Although there was an increased risk for these women, death rates were still low overall.

The study was published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Assn.

"From a public health standpoint, clinicians should be aggressive in detection and treatment of atrial fibrillation," said the authors of a commentary accompanying the study. In particular, drugs to lower the risk of blood clots may reduce the risk of stroke and death, they wrote.

Related: Job stress hikes risk of heart disease for women

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