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Apr 04, 2013

AFib Has Different Effects on Men and Women

A recent study finds that women with AFib experience worse symptoms but that men with the condition are at a greater risk of dying.

Atrial fibrillation, often referred to as AFib, is the most common type of abnormal heart rhythm and affects more than 2 million Americans. A recent study presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 62nd Annual Scientific Session discovered that both symptoms and outcomes for AFib patients vary significantly by gender.

This study analyzed data collected from the Outcomes Registry for Better Informed Treatment of Atrial Fibrillation (ORBIT AF), which included more than 10,000 male and female patients with AFib. Researchers found that compared to men, women had greater stroke risk and were more likely to suffer from symptoms such as heart palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, fatigue and chest discomfort. Women also received slightly different care for AFib compared to men and had worse control of their heart rhythm. However, men with AFib had significantly greater risk of death than women with the same condition.

These findings are interesting because they show that AFib can affect men and women differently, which could have an impact on the treatment of AFib patients. If women experience worse symptoms from AFib than men, the goal of treatment may be to minimize these symptoms and improve quality of life. On the other hand, if AFib increases risk of death more in men, treatment may be aimed at lowering risk of complications and death. More research is needed to fully understand how AFib affects men and women differently, but this study has uncovered knowledge that could ultimately improve AFib treatment in the future.

Questions for You to Consider

  • What are the most common complications associated with atrial fibrillation (AFib)?
  • The most common complications associated with AFib include stroke and heart failure. However, proper treatment can help significantly reduce risk of these complications.
  • What is the goal of atrial fibrillation (AFib) treatment?
  • The goals of AFib treatment include controlling a normal heart rate, reducing risk of complications, minimizing symptoms and improving quality of life.


Bob's Story: Atrial Fibrillation

Learn how Bob Ek and his cardiologist, Scott J. Pollak, MD, FACC, work as a team to manage Bob’s atrial fibrillation.

Kathy Webster is CardioSmart

Kathy Webster was born with a heart defect that contributed to her developing atrial fibrillation. After two open heart surgeries, Kathy is dedicated to living an active and healthy lifestyle.

Marcus McCleery is CardioSmart

An AFib patient, Marcus lost a considerable amount of weight through diet and exercise. He maintains his heart-healthy ways and passes them on to fellow heart patients through volunteer work.

Fatty Acids May Help Prevent Recurrence of Atrial Fibrillation

N-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids found in fish and fish oils help control AFib.