Weight Loss Improves Long-Term Outcomes of Atrial Fibrillation

Losing weight may help patients who are obese and have atrial fibrillation achieve long-term freedom from the heart disorder.

Losing weight may help patients who are obese and have atrial fibrillation (AF) achieve long-term freedom from the heart disorder, the results of a recent study suggest.

The study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, tracked the health of 355 participants in a dedicated weight loss clinic, all of whom were obese and diagnosed with AF at the start of the study. After an average of 4 years, 45% of the patients who lost 10% or more of their body weight and 22% of those who lost 3% to 9% of their weight were free of AF symptoms without the use of AF surgery or medication compared with 13% of patients who lost less than 3% of their body weight.

The research team also found that patients whose weight fluctuated more than 5% between annual visits were twice as likely to have recurrent rhythm problems than those whose weight did not fluctuate, indicating that sustained weight management and a linear weight loss trajectory could play a role in improving AF symptoms. Additionally, weight loss was associated with significant beneficial structural changes in the heart, as well as improvements in blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar.

After analyzing all of these factors, the researchers concluded that patients who lost at least 10% of their weight were 6 times more likely to achieve freedom from AF than those who either gained weight or lost less than 3% of their weight.