It has long been known that smoking increases your risk for many serious health conditions. The list of smoking-related diseases is considerable: asthma, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, heart disease, stroke, peripheral artery disease, and a wide variety of cancers, including lung cancer. Now there’s evidence that smokers are more likely to develop atrial fibrillation than non-smokers.

   September is National Atrial Fibrillation Awareness Month, and Tennova Healthcare is using the occasion to spotlight the latest research related to smoking and atrial fibrillation (AFib). Smokers face a 32 percent increase in AFib risk, while former smokers face a 9 percent higher risk, according to a new scientific analysis published July 11 in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.

Researchers reviewed 29 studies of atrial fibrillation rates in more than a million current, former and never-smokers in Europe, North America, Australia and Japan. For every 10 cigarettes smoked per day, the researchers found a 14 percent increase in the risk of AFib. They also found that every 10 pack-years correlated with a 16 percent increase in risk for AFib.

“Atrial fibrillation is the most common type of heart arrhythmia,” said William C. Lindsay, M.D., (PHOTO ABOVE) a board-certified cardiac electrophysiologist with Tennova Heart. “An arrhythmia is a problem with the rate or rhythm of the heartbeat. During an arrhythmia, the heart can beat too fast, too slow, or with an irregular rhythm.”

Because arrhythmias disrupt the rhythm of the heart, they can interfere with circulation and, depending on the type, cause chest pain, a racing heartbeat, fatigue, fainting, shortness of breath and dizziness. In severe cases, arrhythmias can raise your risk of heart attack, stroke or cardiac arrest, which occurs when the heart suddenly stops beating.

“Fortunately, many arrhythmias aren’t serious health threats,” Dr. Lindsay said. “When treatment is necessary to control your heart rate, relieve symptoms or prevent complications, strategies may include medication, a pacemaker, an implantable cardioverter defibrillator, or radiofrequency ablation.”

A Closer Look at Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation is a serious form of arrhythmia that affects as many as 2.7 million people in the United States. It influences the way the heart’s upper chambers—the atria—beat. In people with AFib, the heartbeat is often described as an irregular quiver, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. People may have temporary episodes of atrial fibrillation or permanently experience the irregular heartbeat.

“AFib can cause blood clots, so one of the most dangerous complications of the condition is stroke,” Dr. Lindsay said. “Patients with AFib are four to six times more likely to have a stroke. For this reason, those diagnosed with AFib should be extra vigilant about their heart health and stroke prevention.”

According to Dr. Lindsay, the new study indicates a clear dose-response relationship between the increasing number of cigarettes smoked per day and the risk of atrial fibrillation. The findings underscore the importance of avoiding smoking among non-smokers and smoking cessation among current smokers to prevent the serious cardiovascular disease and premature mortality.

3 Tips to Help You Quit Smoking

The decision to stop smoking can have a profound effect. Kick the habit effectively with these tips:

1.      Make a plan. Make a list of reasons why you’re quitting. Remind yourself of these every day, even when you don’t feel the urge to smoke.

2.      Get rid of it. Cigarettes, ashtrays, lighters and anything else that will remind you of smoking should go. Every time you look at an ashtray, you’ll think of smoking. So there’s no need to have one on your coffee table.

3.      Know the benefits. Reinforce your decision with the knowledge of why it’s the right choice. Reference your list of why you’re quitting. If health concerns aren’t enough to maintain your resolve, consider this: If you smoke one pack per day, you spend thousands of dollars every year on cigarettes. What else could you do with that money?

For more information or a referral to a heart specialist, call 1-855-TENNOVA (836-6682) or visit (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 09/26/2018-6AM)