Atrial Fibrillation and Smoking, Not a Good Combo

Atrial Fibrillation and Smoking, Not a Good Combo

Smokers hear it all the time. You should stop smoking. But for many, it's a lot easier said than done. The addiction is strong. However, if a smoker needs another reason to quit, it may be as follows: Smokers with atrial fibrillation, an irregular heartbeat, can reduce their risk of stroke if they give up their smoking habit.

Atrial fibrillation, or A-fib, is a common heart disease that affects up to 6 million people in the United States. It also causes thousands of deaths. Researchers who featured a study of the association between smoking and A-fib said one in four middle-aged adults in Europe and the US will develop A-fib. People with A-fib are 5 times more likely to have a stroke than people without heart disease. Stroke is the leading cause of death in this group.

The study included over half a million patients newly diagnosed with A-Fib who were followed for an average of 3 years. The researchers found that while patients who quit smoking were still at a higher risk of stroke overall, their risk decreased and were 30% less likely than those who continued to smoke. Heavy smokers, those who smoked at least 20 cigarettes a day for 30 years, didn't see that big a drop, but they still saw a benefit. People who started smoking just prior to their diagnosis increased their risk of stroke by 84%, and those who were "persistent smokers" were 66% more likely.

Why is the risk of stroke higher in smokers with A-fib? A-Fib causes your blood to pool in parts of your heart and blood clots to form. If they come off, they can get to the brain and cause a stroke. "Smoking leads to blood clots that can lead to stroke, so giving up can lower the risk," study author So-Ryoung Lee of Seoul National University Hospital in Korea said in a press release. "The remaining risk of stroke." after quitting, the damage already being caused to the arteries – called atherosclerosis. "


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