Is Diabetes a Risk Factor for Atrial Fibrillation (AF)?

For the first time diabetes has been shown to be an independent risk factor for AF according to a study published in the October 2009 issue of Diabetes Care. While there is an increased risk of AF in men with diabetes, there is a stronger association between diabetes and AF in women.  Diabetes is an even stronger risk factor than obesity and high blood pressure in women.  Normally, AF occurs more in men than women.  This study showed that women with diabetes had the same incidence of AF as men without diabetes.

While the actual reason behind this relationship is not understood, there is a theory.  Diabetes is known to cause damage to nerves, called neuropathies, and it is possible that the diabetes causes a type of neuropathy in the heart, which can lead to irregular heart rhythms.

 The bottom line is that it is important for diabetic patients to see their healthcare provider regularly and to be evaluated for any type of palpitations.

 Learn how to control your risk factors:

“Take Charge: A Woman’s Guide to a Healthier Heart” discusses how women can help control their cholesterol and other risk factors to prevent a heart attack, stroke and diabetes. “Take Charge: A Man’s Roadmap to a Healthier Heart” is due to be released Fall 2009. For more info visit


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