Women With Irregular Heartbeat At Greater Risk Of Heart Disease Than Men, Says Study

Women with an irregular heartbeat are at a great health risk than men with the same condition, researchers have revealed.

Women with atrial fibrillation (AF) are twice as likely to die from heart disease or stroke, Press Association reports.

Experts, who reviewed 30 studies of more than four million people, called for a review in the way women are treated and diagnosed.

Women with AF were found to be more likely to die from any cause than men with AF (12% higher chance) and had almost double the risk of stroke, almost double the risk of death from heart disease and a 16% higher chance of heart failure.

The authors said it was unclear what caused the differences between women and men.

AF is a heart condition that causes an irregular and often an abnormally fast heart rate, according to the NHS.

While a normal heart rate should be between 60 and 100 beats per minute when resting, in AF the heart rate exceeds this number - sometimes by a large amount.

Symptoms include dizziness, shortness of breath, tiredness and a 'rushing feeling' in the chest, but for others the condition can go undetected.

Treatment can include medication to prevent a stroke or control the heart rate and rhythm, and cardioversion – where the heart is given a controlled electric shock to restore normal rhythm.

June Davison, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said: "Currently AF is often undiagnosed and under-treated in both women and men. This study suggests greater attention should be given to the identification of AF in women.

"It's important that healthcare services for the prevention and treatment of AF take into account the different effects of gender on the condition.

"More research is needed to find out more about the underlying causes of these differences and the BHF is currently funding millions of pounds of research into better understanding and treating AF."

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