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Long-lasting sport practice and lone atrial fibrillation

L Mont , A Sambola , J Brugada , M Vacca , J Marrugat , R Elosua , C Paré , M Azqueta , G Sanz
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1053/euhj.2001.2802 477-482 First published online: 2 March 2002

Abstract

Aims To analyse whether the proportion of patients with lone atrial fibrillation engaged in chronic sport practice was higher than that observed in the general population.

Methods and Results The records of 1160 patients, seen at the arrhythmia outpatient clinic, were reviewed. A total of 70 patients (6%) suffered lone atrial fibrillation and were younger than 65 years. Thirty two of them had been engaged in long-term sport practice. All patients in the sport group were men as compared to only 50% in the sedentary group (P<0·0001). To avoid the confounding effect of sex distribution, women were excluded. Sportsmen started their episodes of atrial fibrillation at a younger age, they had a lower incidence of mild hypertension and their episodes of atrial fibrillation were predominantly vagal in contrast to the sedentary patients. The echocardiographic parameters were similar to those observed in the sedentary patients, but when compared with 20 healthy controls, they showed greater atrial and ventricular dimensions and a higher ventricular mass. The proportion of sportsmen among patients with lone atrial fibrillation is much higher than that reported in the general population of Catalonia: 63% vs 15% (P<0·05).

Conclusion Long-term vigorous exercise may predispose to atrial fibrillation.

  • Lone atrial fibrillation, athlete's heart, vagal atrial fibrillation