Epidemiology of atrial fibrillation.
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Atrial fibrillation is the most common sustained cardiac arrhythmia in the general population. Unfortunately, current treatment strategies aiming at the elimination of atrial fibrillation have limited long term success rates and significant risks. In this context, recent publications have provided many insights on potentially treatable risk factors for the occurrence of atrial fibrillation, such as alcohol, blood pressure, obesity, inflammation and nutritional factors. In this review, we summarise the current evidence on these risk factors and indicate areas in need of further investigation. The current evidence shows that blood pressure, hypertension and obesity seem to play a key role in the pathogenesis of atrial fibrillation. Preliminary evidence also suggests that inflammation is an important mediator of these associations. Knowledge of these interrelationships may eventually help to develop new treatment strategies and decrease the burden of atrial fibrillation in the general population.
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