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Doctors: Testing, assessment can curb stroke risk

Category: Heart Health and Cholesterol

Obesity may be linked to atrial enlargement in the heart, raising the risk of atrial fibrillation, stroke and death, new research suggests.

Based on an analysis of 1,212 men and women between the ages of 25 and 74, researchers concluded that obesity and hypertension may cause structural changes in the heart, often resulting in left atrial enlalrgement (LAE).

After 10 years on examination, investigators found that LAE occurred at a rate of 31.6 percent in obese people, compared to 10 percent among all participants in the study.

As scientists prepare to conduct further research on how weight loss or management can improve LAE, the researchers are stressing the importance of early testing, assessment and intervention to curb obesity and its deleterious effects.

During atrial fibrillation, the heart's two upper chambers, the atria, fail to completely pump out blood, which then may pool and clot, causing a risk for stroke.

Atrial fibrillation is the most common type of arrhythmia, an irregular heart rhythm or heartbeat. According to the American Heart Association, about 15 percent of strokes occur in people with the condition, which is found in about 2.2 million Americans.

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