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Irregular Heart Beats in Men Linked to "Bigness" in Youth

By Daniel H. Rasolt

Posted: Saturday, April 04, 2009

(Defeat Diabetes® News) -- Men who were "big" in their youth, suffer from an increased incidence of abnormal heart rhythm's later in life. "Big" in this case describes stature and muscle mass, as well as weight, making this a more novel study linking seemingly healthy (non-obese) large bodies to heart problems.

More than 7,000 men between the ages of 45-55 years were initially asked about their weight, lifestyles, and general body types at the age of twenty. This initial questioning took place in the year 1970, and the men have been monitored since. While the commonly noted link was observed between men who gained a lot of weight since their youth, and irregular heart rhythm's (more technically known as atrial fibrillation), for those that were typically in good health at the age of 20, just being big was shown to lead to atrial fibrillation more often in later life.

Due to irregular contractions of the atria in atrial fibrillation, there is an increased risk of blood clots and heart disease. It's been linked to obesity in past research, and is often characterized by difficulty in breathing and fatigue. It's also noted that at the time of these individuals youth (the 1930's and 1940's), obesity was relatively uncommon, as compared to the growing epidemic in modern times.

States study author Dr. Annika Rosengren, "atrial fibrillation proved to be significantly more common both among those men who were big during their youth, as well as among those who gained a considerable amount of weight later on in life." In other words, just being tall, and even muscular, in youth, appears to have a similar effect of putting the type of strain on the heart that causes atrial fibrillation, as obesity.

In the developed Western world, this is a potentially troubling finding. Both obesity and average height levels are on the rise in these countries, meaning doctors will need to be more aware of these growing populations that could be at risk for irregular heart rhythm's in the future. Concludes Dr. Rosengren, "since both weight and height are increasing among young people, it's quite likely that atrial fibrillation will become more common when today's young men reach their 60s and 70s, particularly if the tendency to put on several kilos [approximately 13-20 pounds] later on in life continues."

Source: Defeat Diabetes Foundation: Rosengren, Annika. European Heart Journal news release. April 2009.

Daniel H. Rasolt writes for Defeat Diabetes® News. Read more of his original content articles.

Copyright © 2009 Defeat Diabetes Foundation, Inc. All rights reserved.

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