HeartAccording to a latest research, patients with atrial fibrillation seem to have an increased risk of hospitalization due to heart failure. This interesting finding was revealed by researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).

Atrial fibrillation is known to be a condition with irregular heart rhythm. Also it is frequently accompanied by increased heart rate. Apparently, atrial fibrillation is common in people with advanced chronic heart failure. Experts also revealed that atrial fibrillation is not related with an increased risk of death in heart failure patients, thereby opposing earlier assumptions.

Lead researcher, Mustafa Ahmed, M.D., a physician-scientist at the UAB American Board of Internal Medicine Research Pathway Program, says “Our findings show that the presence of atrial fibrillation in heart failure patients did not increase their risk of death, as has been previously suggested, but did increase the risk of hospitalization due to worsening heart failure.”

“Importantly, atrial fibrillation significantly increased hospitalization due to heart failure only in patients not receiving a beta-blocker or drugs that block the beta-receptors in the heart but not in those receiving a beta-blocker,” stated a senior researcher, Ali Ahmed, M.D., MPH, associate professor in the division of gerontology, geriatrics and analgesic care medicine, director of UAB’s Geriatric Heart Failure Clinic. “In patients with heart failure and atrial fibrillation, beta-blockers, which help reduce heart rate, may be useful in reducing the risk of hospitalization due to worsening heart failure.”

For the purpose of the research, Ahmed along with his colleagues matched 487 pairs of heart failure patients with and without atrial fibrillation from the Beta-Blocker Evaluation of Survival Trial. Supposedly, death occurred in nearly 38 percent of the patients with atrial fibrillation in contrast to 37 percent of patients without the condition. However, 44 percent patients with atrial fibrillation were believed to have been hospitalized against 38 percent patients without atrial fibrillation. Since, they experienced heart failure during the test which kept on deteriorating.

Ahmed’s co-researchers were Mustafa Ahmed, James Ekundayo, M.D., Dr PH, Inmaculada Aban, Ph.D., Bo Liu, MB, MPH, all from UAB; Michel White, MD, Montreal Heart Institute; Thomas Love, Ph.D., Case Western Reserve University; and Wilbert Aronow, MD, New York Medical College.

The findings of the research have been published in the European Heart Journal.