Diabetes Linked to Atrial Fibrillation

SEATTLE, April 27 (UPI) — U.S. researchers have linked diabetes to a 40 percent greater risk of atrial fibrillation — irregular heart beat.

Researchers at Group Health Research Institute in Seattle, led by Dr. Sascha Dublin, also found the longer people have diabetes and the less controlled their blood sugar, the greater the risk of atrial fibrillation.

“When a patient with diabetes has symptoms like heart palpitations, clinicians should have a higher level of suspicion that the reason could be atrial fibrillation,” Dublin said in a statement.

However, the study, published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, also found patients with well-controlled diabetes were about equally likely to have atrial fibrillation as people without diabetes.

Dublin and colleagues tracked more than 1,400 Group Health patients with newly recognized atrial fibrillation and 2,200 controls matched by age, sex and high blood pressure, who did not have atrial fibrillation. The study adjusted for patients’ weight because diabetes and atrial fibrillation are more common in heavier people.

The researchers found risk of atrial fibrillation rose by 3 percent for each additional year a patient had diabetes. The risk of atrial fibrillation was twice that of those without diabetes in those with high blood sugar — glycosylated hemoglobin.

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