MONDAY, Nov. 5, 2018 (HealthDay News) — Opioid use is associated with the risk for developing atrial fibrillation (AF), according to a study scheduled to be presented at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association, held from Nov. 10 to 12 in Chicago.

Jonathan D. Stock, M.D., from the Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut, and colleagues examined whether opioid use is independently associated with AF in a cohort of young veterans with few baseline comorbidities. Data were included for 857,283 post-9/11 veterans, with a mean age of 38 years.

Overall, 0.354 percent of veterans in the study cohort had a diagnosis of AF. The researchers found that 29.2 percent of those with AF and 15.4 percent of those without AF were prescribed opioids. After adjustment for demographic, medical, and mental health covariates, including those with known associations to AF risk, opioid prescription was independently associated with the likelihood of having AF (odds ratio, 1.34). No significant trend was observed in terms of duration of opioid prescription in the study window and AF prevalence.

“We all know that the opioid epidemic is taking an unspeakable human toll through addiction, abuse, and overdose, but our findings suggest that the toll may be even greater when we consider the cardiovascular effects opioids may have,” Stock said in a statement.

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