Emory University Logo Atrial fibrillation is apparently considered as one of the most common heart beat irregularity. Investigators from the Emory University School of Medicine suggest that measuring oxidative stress can enable doctors to predict the threat of atrial fibrillation. Also a probable link between oxidative stress and enlargement of the heart’s left atrium, which paves way for atrial fibrillation, has been identified.

At the time of the study, authors examined 629 patients in an average age group of 63 years for three years. All the participants were undergoing cardiac catheterization at Emory. Atrial fibrillation is considered as a risk factor for stroke because it presumably leads to ineffective pumping and pooling of blood, that can cause blood clots in the heart’s upper chambers. The risk for developing atrial fibrillation may elevate with age, and three to five percent of people over 65 suffer from this condition.

Risk factors for atrial fibrillation probably are high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, smoking and previous heart disease. However, the symptoms of atrial fibrillation, like rapid heart rate, palpitations and shortness of breath, appear episodic and variable in severity. During the study, 38 out of 629 patients reportedly developed atrial fibrillation. People with high levels of the amino acid cystine in their blood at the start of the study seemed 2.1 times more likely to develop atrial fibrillation over the next three years. This threat was registered even after correcting for traditional risk factors.

“Our results suggest that increased oxidative stress promotes remodeling of the heart and enlargement of the left atrium, which can increase the likelihood of atrial fibrillation. Studies targeting oxidative stress markers may have a valuable effect in reducing atrial fibrillation risk,” added Nima Ghasemzadeh, MD, at the American College of Cardiology meeting in New Orleans.

Scientists presume that the presence of mitral regurgitation and being a male heightens the chances of developing atrial fibrillation. Oxidative stress is an imbalance in cellular metabolism that supposedly relates to cardiovascular disease. This stress presumably depicts a breakdown in the body’s ability to govern over reactive oxygen species. Such reactive oxygen species may have essential functions, but can also contribute to remodeling and enlargement of the heart.

It was concluded that simply measuring oxidative stress levels can possibly help avoid development of atrial fibrillation.