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Exercise & Fitness
Exercise appears to lower atrial fibrillation and stroke risk
New evidence suggests a powerful connection.
For years, doctors have debated whether exercise might help lower the risk for atrial fibrillation (afib), a common and potentially dangerous irregular heartbeat (see "What is atrial fibrillation?"). Some evidence has suggested a benefit, but the link has been unclear. "It’s come from self-reported information from study participants, which isn’t an exact science," says Dr. Steven Lubitz, an electrophysiologist at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.
Exercise guidelines have also contributed to the debate. "The recommendation of 150 minutes per week of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity isn’t based on a specific disease like afib," says Dr. Lubitz. "It’s based on strong evidence that such regular exercise reduces your risk of many different diseases and your risk of premature death. Reducing your risk of afib is just one benefit of regular exercise."
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About the Author
Heidi Godman, Executive Editor, Harvard Health Letter
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Managing Atrial Fibrillation
Managing Atrial Fibrillation will explain what atrial fibrillation is, how to know if you have it, its causes, and the treatments available. Afib can be a complex health condition, so the more you know about it, the better you will be able to work with your doctor. If afib is monitored and treated correctly, you can minimize its symptoms and help to prevent serious complications like stroke and heart damage.
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