Bariatric surgery prevents obese patients from developing atrial fibrillation

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A first-of-its-kind study has found that bariatric surgery helps to prevent incidence of atrial fibrillation in patients with morbid obesity.

The study was presented at the Heart Rhythm Society’s 35th Annual Scientific Sessions (7–10 May, San Francisco, USA).

The retrospective study was conducted in 438 patients with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher and identified as good candidates for bariatric surgery. Of these patients, 326 were elected to undergo surgery for weight reduction and 112 patients (controls) were only managed medically. The diagnosis of AF was documented by ECG or ambulatory monitors and metabolic profiles were collected at baseline and follow-up.


The baseline BMI was different in the patients that underwent surgery vs. those who did not have surgery (46.9 vs. 43.2kg/m2). The prevalence of AF at baseline was not significantly different between the two groups (surgical 3.7% vs. control 4.5% p=0.63) at baseline. However, after a mean follow-up duration of 7.2±3.7 years, new onset of AF occurred in 6.4% of surgical group, significantly lower than 16.1% (p<0.01) in the medically treated group.

“Obesity has become an epidemic in our culture and prevention efforts are more important now than ever,” said Yong-Mei Cha, professor of medicine at Mayo Clinic, USA and co-author of the study. “Bariatric surgery is a preventative measure that obese patients may choose to take and our study shows that the surgery helps them not only lose weight, but also reduces their risk of developing a serious cardiac condition, like AF. It is important to continue the conversation about how to help prevent this epidemic from becoming even more widespread.”

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