Wed, Nov 20, 2019 - Page 2 News List

Tall people at more risk of arrhythmia relapse: study

By Lin Hui-chin and Sherry Hsiao  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Taller people might be at greater risk of relapse after undergoing cardiac catheter ablation to treat arrhythmia, a study by Taipei Veterans General Hospital has suggested.

The study was conducted by a team of researchers led by hospital vice superintendent Chen Shih-ann (陳適安).

The team analyzed data from nearly 700 people with paroxysmal atrial fibrillation, a kind of arrhythmia, the hospital said.

The study showed that after receiving catheter ablation, people who were taller — particularly women taller than 160cm — had higher relapse rates, it said.

“It was the first time in the world that it has been discovered that people with atrial fibrillation who are taller have a higher relapse rate,” Chen said.

Although the increased risk of relapse might be associated with a greater atrial diameter in taller people, further research is needed to determine the cause of the connection, he said.

He and his team are in the final stages of preparing the study for submission to an international journal, Chen said.

Their finding agrees with a study by Penn Medicine published on Friday last week suggesting that taller people are at higher risk of developing atrial fibrillation, he said.

Researchers found that for every 2.54cm increase in height above 170.18cm, the risk of atrial fibrillation increases about 3 percent, Penn Medicine said.

Penn Medicine comprises the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine and the University of Pennsylvania Health System.

To explore the connection, the researchers analyzed data from the Genetic Investigation of Anthropometric Trials consortium and the Atrial Fibrillation Genetics Consortium using “a statistical method which uses genetics to precisely estimate the relationship between the two traits,” it said.

“Their analysis revealed that genetic variants associated with height were also strongly associated with [atrial fibrillation], suggesting that increased height may be a cause,” Penn Medicine said, adding that the relationship “remained strong” even after adjusting for traditional risk factors such as heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.

Analysis of nearly 7,000 individuals enrolled in the Penn Medicine Biobank using a similar statistical method also found that height — and its genetic variants — were “strongly associated” with an increased risk of the condition, it said, adding that this finding was “independent from traditional clinical and echocardiographic risk factors.”

The Penn study is “among the first to demonstrate that height may be a causal — not correlated — risk factor for [atrial fibrillation],” it said.

The prevalence of atrial fibrillation in Taiwan is about 1 percent, Chen said.

Patients with atrial fibrillation have a three to five times higher risk of having a stroke, he said.

People in the high-risk group for atrial fibrillation, including those with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugar or heart disease, should receive regular screenings, he said.

They should also be extra cautious of potential symptoms, such as heart palpitations, he added.

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