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High body surface area and weight can lead to heart rhythm disorder

High body surface area and weight can lead to heart rhythm disorder

It has been reported that people with a large body surface area have almost three times the risk of atrial fibrillation.

That's according to research presented at EuroPrevent 2017 - the annual congress of the European Association of Preventive Cardiology (EAPC).

Professor Annika Rosengren, professor of internal medicine at Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, said: "We found that bigger women have a greater risk of atrial fibrillation. There was a stepwise elevation in risk with increasing body size. The group with the highest body surface area had nearly three times the risk as those with the lowest BSA."

The research

The study assessed 1.5 million women over 30 years - aged 28 years on average.

"Our research has previously shown that a large body size at age 20, and weight gain from age 20 to midlife, both independently increased the risk of atrial fibrillation in men. In this study, we investigated the impact of body size on atrial fibrillation risk in women." said Annika.

Data on weight early in pregnancy, height, age, diabetes, hypertension and smoking were obtained from the Swedish Medical Birth Registry. Information on atrial fibrillation causing hospitalisation was collected from the Swedish Inpatient Registry.

For the research, the participants were divided into four groups according to their BSA: 0.97-1.16 m2, 1.61-1.71m2, 1.71-1.82m2 and 1.82-3.02m2.

The results

During the 30 year investigation, over 7000 women were hospitalised with atrial fibrillation - the average age of hospitalisation was 49 years.

Women grouped in the second, third and fourth (i.e. the highest) quartile had a 1.16, 1.55 and 2.61 times increased risk of developing atrial fibrillation, compared to women in the first and lowest quartile with a BSA reading of 0.97 - 1.16m2.

The results also showed a correlation between weight, height and BMI to BSA. Women with the highest BSA in the study, compared to those with the lowest BSA were approximately 9cm taller, 28kg heavier and had a higher BMI (at 28kg/m2 opposed to 21kg/m2).

Annika's advice

Atrial fibrillation carries a 20% lifetime risk and increases the risk of stroke and heart failure mostly affecting people aged 60+.

Annika said: "Atrial fibrillation is the result of obesity-related metabolic changes but there is also a second cause. Big people - not necessarily fat, but big - have a larger atrium, which is where atrial fibrillation comes from. People with a bigger atrium have a higher risk of atrial fibrillation.

"Generally it's better to be tall because you have less risk of stroke and heart attack, and better survival.

"Taller people are often better educated, have higher socioeconomic status, and may have received better nutrition at a young age and in the womb. But in this case being tall is less desirable because it alters the structure of the heart in a way that may be conducive to atrial fibrillation.

"In general young women need not worry about their risks of atrial fibrillation, whatever their body size. For older women and men being big could be an indicator that you are at increased risk."

She concluded, "If you are very tall, I think that it could be a good idea to avoid accumulating excess weight. That would apply to both men and women."

How a Marsden scale can help

You can calculate Body Surface Area, as well as weight and BMI to assess risk of atrial fibrillation with Marsden's new entry level scales range are the first weighing scales to include a BSA function.

The Marsden M-125 is a column scale with a 250kg capacity. The base is fitted with wheels for easy transportation between rooms. There's also an optional height measure.

The Marsden M-225 is a chair scale which can be used for patients who are unable to stand, and can be used to transport the patient as well as weigh them. The scale features hinged armrests, footrests and brakes for safety and comfort.

The Marsden M-545 is a floor scale for GP surgeries and clinics. For portability, an optional carry case is available to transport the scale to wherever it is needed.

For more information about any of our scales and the new Body Surface Area function, call 01709 364296 or contact us here.