TUESDAY, July 13, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Athletes have a significantly greater likelihood of developing atrial fibrillation versus nonathletes, according to a systematic review and meta-analysis published online July 12 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

William Newman, from Canterbury Christ Church University in the United Kingdom, and colleagues conducted a systematic literature review and meta-analysis to assess the incidence of atrial fibrillation among athletes versus nonathletes.

Based on 13 studies included in a meta-analysis, the risk for developing atrial fibrillation was significantly higher in athletes versus nonathletes (odds ratio, 2.46). There was a moderate correlation between mode of exercise and risk for atrial fibrillation (B = 0.1259), with mixed sport carrying a higher risk for atrial fibrillation than endurance sport (B = −0.5476). Compared with older athletes (55 years and older), athletes younger than 55 years of age were significantly more likely to develop atrial fibrillation (B = −0.02293).

“Athletes have a significantly greater likelihood of developing atrial fibrillation compared with nonathlete controls,” the authors write. “Younger aged athletes have a greater relative risk of atrial fibrillation compared with older athletes; however, exercise dose parameters, including training and competition history, as well as potential gender differences for the risk of atrial fibrillation [require] future research.”

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