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September 22, 2018

Smokers likely to suffer irregular heart beats - study

"Results further suggest that all smokers are 32 percent more likely to develop atrial fibrillation, while those who have ditched the habit still have a nine percent higher risk." /FILE
"Results further suggest that all smokers are 32 percent more likely to develop atrial fibrillation, while those who have ditched the habit still have a nine percent higher risk." /FILE

Smokers are up to 45 percent more likely to suffer from irregular heart beats, new research suggests.

For every 10 cigarettes smoked a day, the risk of suffering from atrial fibrillation increases by 14 percent, a study found today.

Study author Dr Dagfinn Aune, from Imperial College London, said: "If you smoke, stop smoking and if you don't smoke, don't start. We found that smokers are at increased risk of atrial fibrillation, but the risk is reduced considerably in those who quit."

Atrial fibrillation affects up to one in four adults in the UK and US, and is responsible for as many as 30 percent of all life-threatening strokes.

The researchers analysed 29 studies carried out in Europe, North America, Australia and Japan.

The study review had a total of 677,785 participants, of which 39,282 suffered from atrial fibrillation.

The findings were published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.

Results further suggest that all smokers are 32 percent more likely to develop atrial fibrillation, while those who have ditched the habit still have a nine percent higher risk.

Compared to no cigarettes, smoking five, 10, 15, 20, 25 or 29 daily raises the risk of atrial fibrillation by nine, 17, 25, 32, 39 and 45 per cent, respectively.

Dr Aune said: "Our results provide further evidence of the health benefits of quitting smoking and, even better, to never start smoking in the first place.

"This is important from a public health perspective to prevent atrial fibrillation and many other chronic diseases."

Smoking also raises the risk of lung cancer, heart disease and pneumonia.

The researchers add further studies are required to determine if ex-smokers' atrial fibrillation risk can be reduced to that of those who have never used tobacco.

This comes after research released last May suggested obese people are more likely to smoke.

For every 4.6kg/m2 increase in BMI, the risk of being a smoker rises by up to 19 per cent, a study found.

Genetic mutations may draw obese smokers to addictive behaviours, causing them to indulge in both nicotine and fattening foods, according to researchers from the International Agency for Research on Cancer, Lyon.

Previous research suggests smokers take in fewer calories, therefore obese people may start smoking to help them lose weight, the scientists add.

Alternatively, smokers may be more likely to have other unhealthy lifestyle habits that lead to obesity, such as a poor diet or being inactive.

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