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NLM Director’s Comments Transcript
Weight Loss Reduces Atrial Fibrillation: 01/21/2014

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Greetings from the National Library of Medicine and

Regards to all our listeners!

I'm Rob Logan, Ph.D. senior staff National Library of Medicine for Donald Lindberg, M.D, the Director of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

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Weight loss reduces several risk factors for atrial fibrillation (or an irregular heart rhythm), finds a study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The Australian study found adult participants in a weight loss group experienced a significant reduction in symptom burdens and severity for atrial fibrillation (or AF) as well as significantly fewer AF episodes with less duration over time.

Symptom burdens and severity were evaluated by a well-established scale for AF patients. The number of episodes and the time of duration for all participants were assessed by the study’s 13 authors for 18 months from June 2010 until December 2011 — with about a 15 month follow up period.

Although all 150 participants in the study either were overweight or obese, 75 patients were randomly assigned to a group that received low-calorie diets and subsequent low-glycemic index meals. The weight loss group also began a three day-per-week exercise program that expanded from 20 to 45 minutes as the study progressed.

The adult patients within the weight loss group lost an average of 33 pounds each, which was significantly more than the control group (who did not receive a tailored diet and exercise program).

Both groups received the same medications to control blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar, which (including diabetes) are additional AF risk factors.

In short, the study’s authors controlled for confounding variables in clinical management to assess the impact of weight loss on AF.

Overall, the study’s lead author told Reuters — in terms of urging patients to better manage AF’s risk factors — (and we quote): ‘the public needs to be aware of and it’s not out there yet’ (end of quote).’s atrial fibrillation health topic page explains AF is a type of rhythm disorder that impacts the heart’s upper chamber.’s atrial fibrillation health topic page adds AF can lead to an increased risk of stroke.

Some of AF’s symptoms include: palpitations (or abnormally rapid heartbeats) shortness of breath, fatigue, and chest pain.’s atrial fibrillation health topic page explains AF is treated by medicines and procedures that seek to restore the heart’s normal rhythm.’s atrial fibrillation health topic page contains a link to a website that provides information about who is at risk of AF (from the American Heart Association) within the ‘related issues’ section. Another website from the American Heart Association provides a patient guide to living with AF and is found within the ‘overviews’ section of’s atrial fibrillation health topic page.

A helpful guide to the treatment of AF (provided by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute) is provided in the ‘treatment’ section of’s atrial fibrillation health topic page.’s atrial fibrillation health topic page also provides links to the latest pertinent journal research articles, which are available in the ‘journal articles’ section. Links to clinical trials that may be occurring in your area are available in the ‘clinical trials’ section. You can sign up to receive updates about AF as they become available on

To find’s atrial fibrillation health topic page type ‘AF’ in the search box on’s home page. Then, click on ‘atrial fibrillation (National Library of Medicine).’ also contains health topic pages on arrhythmia and blood, heart, and circulation.

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