Weight loss and exercise may ease atrial fibrillation

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For people with atrial fibrillation, losing a little weight and getting exercise may improve their symptoms, according to a review published online Feb. 7, 2018, by The American Journal of Cardiology.

Atrial fibrillation (or afib) is a common heart rhythm disorder marked by a quivering or fluttering heartbeat, which can cause dizziness and breathlessness. Other symptoms include fatigue, weakness, and fainting.

Researchers identified 10 studies that examined lifestyle strategies to manage afib. The strongest evidence came from three studies on weight loss and four on exercise. The weight-loss interventions featured low-calorie diets and moderate exercise, which were linked to fewer and shorter bouts of afib. The improvements were more pronounced among people who lost at least 10% of their weight.

The exercise studies included different interventions, ranging from brisk walking to running for various times and frequencies. Over all, getting regular moderate to vigorous exercise was associated with improved quality of life and fewer symptoms in people with afib. Both weight loss and exercise may complement other therapies to treat afib, including medications and procedures, the authors concluded.

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