I know there's a few people on here who've suffered from AF or who have an interest in it, so I thought I'd share an interesting study I read today.
The authors studied over 52,000 cross country skiers taking part in a long distance ski race in Sweden and showed that those who took part several times, or who had a faster finishing time, had a higher incidence of AF than other racers (or the general population). The conclusion is that being a trained endurance athlete may confer some risk of AF.
Risk of arrhythmias in 52 755 long-distance cross-country skiers: a cohort study
Published in the European Heart Journal, 2013
We aimed to investigate the association of number of completed races and finishing time with risk of arrhythmias among participants of Vasaloppet, a 90 km cross-country skiing event.
Methods and results
All the participants without cardiovascular disease who completed Vasaloppet during 1989–98 were followed through national registries until December 2005. Primary outcome was hospitalization for any arrhythmia and secondary outcomes were atrial fibrillation/flutter (AF), bradyarrhythmias, other supraventricular tachycardias (SVT), and ventricular tachycardia/ventricular fibrillation/cardiac arrest (VT/VF/CA). Among 52 755 participants, 919 experienced arrhythmia during follow-up. Adjusting for age, education, and occupational status, those who completed the highest number of races during the period had higher risk of any arrhythmias [hazard ratio (HR)1.30; 95% CI 1.08–1.58; for ≥5 vs. 1 completed race], AF (HR 1.29; 95% CI 1.04–1.61), and bradyarrhythmias (HR 2.10; 95% CI 1.28–3.47). Those who had the fastest relative finishing time also had higher risk of any arrhythmias (HR 1.30; 95% CI 1.04–1.62; for 100–160% vs. >240% of winning time), AF (1.20; 95% CI 0.93–1.55), and bradyarrhythmias (HR 1.85; 95% CI 0.97–3.54). SVT or VT/VF/CA was not associated with finishing time or number of completed races.
Among male participants of a 90 km cross-country skiing event, a faster finishing time and a high number of completed races were associated with higher risk of arrhythmias. This was mainly driven by a higher incidence of AF and bradyarrhythmias. No association with SVT or VT/VF/CA was found.