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The Association Between Atrial Fibrillation and Endurance Physical Activity: How Much is Too Much?

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common arrhythmia in middle-aged athletes. Physical exercise performed in a regular basis has been shown to be beneficial for cardiovascular health. Moderate physical exercise, aside from producing a nice, peaceful and well-being sensation, has been associated with a reduced risk of AF. However, more strenuous endurance exercise, like the one experiencing marathon runners, seems to increase the risk of AF in healthy athletes without organic heart disease. On the other hand, low physical activity was found to be a risk factor for the appearance of AF. Nevertheless, the relationship of exercise to AF is complex, influenced by the intensity and the duration of the physical activity, and seems to have a U-shaped relationship with the greatest levels of physical activity possibly increasing AF incidence. There is cumulative data associating moderate physical activity to reduced AF incidence, hence physicians should recommend moderate exercise training to patients with AF. This may not only reduce AF risk, but would also contribute to an overall cardiovascular benefit. However, since there is also important data suggesting significant increased incidence of AF in elite athletes with long-term endurance physical activity, it may be a serious concern to go to the extreme. And as it has been said “the point of discretion lays in between the two extreme

Credits: Osmar Antonio Centurión , José C. Candia , Karina E. Scavenius , Laura B. García, Judith M. Torales, Luís Marcelo Miño

Biosense Webster
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Introduction to AFib
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