People with severe kidney disease may be at a two-fold higher risk of developing atrial fibrillation — an irregular heartbeat condition, researchers, led by one of Indian-origin, have suggested. Atrial fibrillation is the most common sustained arrhythmia in the general population, and it is especially high in patients with kidney failure.
In patients with the lowest kidney function or the greatest amount of proteinuria — the presence of excess proteins in the urine as well as a sign of kidney damage — the risk for developing atrial fibrillation was approximately two-fold higher compared with those without kidney disease.
“This study found that even modest abnormalities in kidney function were linked with a higher risk of developing atrial fibrillation later in life,” said Nisha Bansal, assistant professor at the University of Washington.
“Atrial fibrillation may affect the selection of cardiovascular therapies and is associated with poor clinical outcomes. Thus, an understanding of the risk of atrial fibrillation across a broad range of kidney function is important,” she added.
For the study, the team analysed 16,769 community-dwelling individuals without atrial fibrillation. There was a step-wise increase in the risk of incident atrial fibrillation with decreasing kidney function.
The findings, which appear in an upcoming issue of the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (CJASN), suggest that individuals with poor kidney function may benefit from preventive interventions to maintain a normal heart rhythm.