The role of obesity in atrial fibrillation

Eur Heart J. 2016 May 21;37(20):1565-72. doi: 10.1093/eurheartj/ehv486. Epub 2015 Sep 14.


Atrial fibrillation (AF) is commonly associated with overweight and obesity. Both conditions have been identified as major global epidemics associated with increased mortality and morbidity. Overweight populations have higher incidence, prevalence, severity, and progression of AF compared with their normal weight counterparts. Additionally, weight change appears to accompany alteration of arrhythmia profile, raising overweight, and obesity as potential targets for intervention. Recent clinical data confirm hypothesis drawn from epidemiological studies that durable weight reduction strategies facilitate effective management of AF. Stable weight loss decreases AF burden and AF recurrence following treatment. Structural remodelling in response to weight loss suggests that reverse remodelling of the AF substrate mediates improvement of arrhythmia profile. Obesity often co-exists with multiple AF risk factors that improve in response to weight loss, making a consolidated approach of weight loss and AF risk factor management preferable. However, weight loss for AF remains in its infancy, and its broad adoption as a management strategy for AF remains to be defined.

Keywords: Atrial fibrillation; Atrial remodelling; Obesity; Overweight.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Atrial Fibrillation*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Obesity*
  • Risk Factors
  • Weight Loss