The Impact of Diet and Lifestyle on Atrial Fibrillation

Curr Cardiol Rep. 2018 Oct 12;20(12):137. doi: 10.1007/s11886-018-1082-8.


Purpose of review: Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common sustained cardiac arrhythmia in humans, affecting more than 33 million people globally. Its association with complex, resource intensive medical conditions such as stroke, heart failure and dementia have had profound impacts across existing health care structures. The global prevalence of AF has enjoyed significant growth despite significant improvement in our armamentarium for arrhythmia treatment.

Recent findings: Efforts aimed at curtailing the incidence, prevalence, or progression of AF have prompted re-evaluation of traditional frameworks for understanding and managing this debilitating disease. It is in this context that focus has shifted toward lifestyle-associated factors such as obesity, hypertension, sleep apnoea, exercise, alcohol and diet, as mechanistic drivers and putative targets for therapy. Compelling evidence exists for weight loss and management of associated risk factors to improve outcomes of AF treatment. This review will address the epidemiologic and mechanistic evidence that link lifestyle-associated factors with AF and in light of this analysis evaluate the clinical impacts of their upstream management. Traditional paradigms of AF are shifting in light of emerging evidence, such that risk factor modification has become positioned as the fourth pillar of AF management.

Keywords: Alcohol; Atrial fibrillation; Cardio respiratory fitness; Diet; Exercise; Risk factor management; Weight loss.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects*
  • Atrial Fibrillation / etiology
  • Atrial Fibrillation / prevention & control*
  • Atrial Fibrillation / therapy
  • Diet, Healthy*
  • Exercise*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / physiopathology
  • Obesity / prevention & control*
  • Observational Studies as Topic
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Risk Reduction Behavior*
  • Weight Loss