Atrial fibrillation stopped by managing risk factors

20 August 2015

Clare Pain

atrial fibrillation stopped by management of risk factors

Atrial fibrillation, the heart rhythm disorder, can be stopped altogether in a large number of people by aggressive control of  their risk factors, according to an Australian heart specialist.

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is characterised by a rapid and irregular heartbeat.

Cardiologist Dr Rajeev Kumar Pathak says 40% of people with AF who were put on “aggressive risk factor management”, had no AF after 12 months. And that was without any anti-arrhythmic medicines or surgical ablation, where the defective heart tissue that causes the abnormal electrical signals is inactivated.

“Sleep apnoea, diabetes, high blood pressure …and obesity are associated with atrial fibrillation,” so they need to be managed, says Dr Pathak, from the University of Adelaide, who presented his research at the Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand 2015 Annual Scientific Meeting.

In the study, Dr Pathak and his team measured electrical conduction patterns in the hearts of 50 patients randomly allocated to either aggressive risk management or standard care for AF, comparing results after 12 months of treatment.

Voltage signs of atrial fibrillation improved markedly in the patients who had been allocated to the aggressive risk factor management, which included weight loss for those overweight or obese. Risk factors such as obesity, exercise, smoking and alcohol consumption were addressed in the trial.

Clare Pain attended the CSANZ 2015 Annual Scientific Meeting with the support of Bayer.


Pathak RK et al. Long-Term Effect of Goal-Directed Weight Management in an Atrial Fibrillation Cohort: A Long-Term Follow-Up Study (LEGACY). J Am Coll Cardiol. 2015 May 26;65(20):2159-69. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2015.03.002. Epub 2015 Mar 16.