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Female Diabetics More Likely to Develop Atrial Fibrillation

Last Updated: October 01, 2009.

Among patients with diabetes, women -- but not men -- have a significantly increased risk of developing atrial fibrillation, according to a study published in the October issue of Diabetes Care.

THURSDAY, Oct. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Among patients with diabetes, women -- but not men -- have a significantly increased risk of developing atrial fibrillation, according to a study published in the October issue of Diabetes Care.

Gregory A. Nichols, Ph.D., of the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland, Ore., and colleagues studied 17,372 diabetes patients in the states of Oregon and Washington and an equal number of non-diabetic patients.

At baseline, the researchers found that the prevalence of atrial fibrillation was significantly greater among diabetics than non-diabetics (3.6 versus 2.5 percent). During a mean follow-up of 7.2 years, they found that diabetics without atrial fibrillation at baseline had a higher rate of developing atrial fibrillation than non-diabetics (9.1 versus 6.6 per 1,000 person-years). However, after adjusting for other risk factors, such as obesity, high blood pressure and age, they found that diabetes was associated with a significantly increased risk of atrial fibrillation in women but not in men (hazard ratios, 1.26 and 1.09, respectively).

"These findings have potential public health implications, especially in women, and emphasize the need for further investigation of the mechanistic links between diabetes and atrial fibrillation," the authors conclude.

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