‘Popular’ supplements could raise risk of atrial fibrillation, experts warn

ATRIAL FIBRILLATION is the most common heart rhythm disturbance, affecting around 1.4 million people in the UK. The condition increases the risk of serious complications including stroke and heart failure. A new study has found one popular supplements could have dire consequences for some who take it.

While atrial fibrillation (AF) is not usually life-threatening, it can be uncomfortable and often requires treatment. An irregular heartbeat can lead to complications like blood clots, stroke and heart failure. A study found that, for a small portion of people, omega-3 fatty acid supplement may increase the risk of AF.

Marco Lombardi, MD, associated professor in the department of cardiovascular and thoracic sciences at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, probed the link between AF and omega-3 supplements for a study published in the European Heart Journal: Cardiovascular Pharmacotherapy.

He said: “Omega-3 fatty acids supplementation are being utilised in clinical practices to reduce cardiovascular (CVD) risk in patients with elevated plasma triglycerides.

“Safety has been, however, questioned as several cardiovascular outcomes trials of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation showed a potential increase of AF when compared with placebo.”

Atrial fibrillation is the most prevalent sustained cardiac arrhythmia worldwide, and is associated with high mortality and morbidity, ultimately making it a major public health burden.

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The results of the analysis revealed that individuals at risk for cardiovascular disease and elevated triglycerides treated with omega-3 fatty acids supplementation have a significantly higher incidence of AF events.

Lombardi added: “Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation has been utilised to reduce CVD and CVD-related mortality in patients with high cardiovascular risk and elevated plasma triglycerides.

“Although the positive effects of omega-3 fat acid supplementation on the composite cardiovascular endpoints have been inconsistent, most trials have been associated with an increased risk for AF occurrence.

“Even lower doses of omega-3 fatty acids supplementation has shown a potential signal for increased risk for AF, proposing that regardless of the dose of supplementation implemented in the trial, omega-3 fatty acids supplementation may increase the risk for AF.

“The results of our meta-analysis confirmed this finding, which is concerning given the large proportion of patients eligible for treatments with omega-3 fatty acids supplementation.”

According the NHS, AF is a heart condition that cases an irregular and often abnormally fast heart rate.

In some cases, the heartbeat becomes considerably higher than 100 beats per minute.

Sometimes AF does not cause any symptoms and a person who has it may be completely unaware that their heart rate is irregular.

Supplement risk
Symptoms of AF include:
  • Palpitations, which are sensations of a racing, uncomfortable, irregular heartbeat or a flip-flopping in your chest.
  • Weakness
  • Reduced ability to exercise
  • Lightheadedness
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue.

Although it is not always possible to prevent an irregular heartbeat developing, a healthy lifestyle can lower the risk of developing heart conditions.

Furthermore, some diet and lifestyle factors are also associated with abnormal heart rhythms, such as drinking too much caffeine, alcohol, or being overweight, which places strain on the heart.

Read: Improving lifestyle habits may be useful additions to management of atrial fibrillation

The Mayo Clinic outlined four different types of AF:

Occasional: The symptoms may come and go, usually lasting for a few minutes to hours – sometimes lasting for a whole week.

Persistent: With this type of AF the heart rhythm doesn’t go back to normal on its own. It usually requires treatment such as an electrical shock or medications in order to restore the heart rhythm.

Long-standing persistent: This type of AF is persistent and lasts longer than 12 months.

Permanent: In this type of AF, the abnormal heart rhythm can’t be restored. It requires medication to control the heart rate and prevent blood clots

Post source Daily Express

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