Atrial Fibrillation In Athletes: Pathophysiology, Clinical Presentation, Evaluation and Management

J Atr Fibrillation. 2015 Dec 31;8(4):1309. doi: 10.4022/jafib.1309. eCollection 2015 Dec.


Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common cardiac arrhythmia in athletes, especially in middle-aged athletes. Studies have demonstrated that athletes who engage in endurance sports such as runners, cyclists and skiers are more prone to AF than other athletes. The effects of exercise on the onset and progression of AF is complex. Triggers of AF in athletes may include atrial ectopy and sports supplements. Substrates for AF in athletes include atrial remodeling, fibrosis, and inflammation. Modulators of AF in athletes include autonomic activation, electrolyte abnormalities, and possibly, gastroesophageal reflux. Management of AF in athletes with rate-controlling agents and antiarrhythmic drugs remains a challenge and can be associated with impaired athletic performance. The value of catheter ablation is emerging and should be considered in suitable athletes with AF.

Keywords: Athletes; Atrial Fibrillation; Evaluation; Exercise; Management; Pathophysiology.

Publication types

  • Review