High Blood Pressure, Palpitations, May Portend Future Heart Rhythm Disorder

High blood pressure and palpitations are bothersome cardiovascular issues just by themselves, but a new study reveals that both conditions could also signal a future and potentially very serious heart problem as well.

In a study out of Norway, researchers looked at patients with high blood pressure and palpitations, and tracked the participants for more than a decade, examining the trajectory of cardiovascular issues within the population monitored by the study.

What they found is that both high blood pressure as well as palpitations also strongly appeared to be risk factors for atrial fibrillation, which in turn increases risk of heart attack, stroke and death.

Science Daily looked at the study, reporting that it notes that atrial fibrillation’s risk factor for heart failure is tripled, for stroke it is a five-fold increase and risk of overall mortality is doubled.

The site notes that a recent consensus statement explains that atrial fibrillation is “one of the major common and chronic disorders in modern cardiology,” and that death risk associated with the condition “remain[s] unacceptably high.”

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Lead author of the study examining high blood pressure, palpitations and atrial fibrillation, Dr. Audhild Nyrnes of the Department of Community Medicine, University of Tromsø, Norway, said that though the link is not necessarily causal, but evidence is strong to suggest as much:

“Although the occurrence of palpitations was assessed before a diagnosis of AF and the association remained significant even after adjustment for other AF risk factors, we cannot conclude with certainty that the association is causal… However, in this case it is not unreasonable to propose a causal relationship. ‘Palpitations’ are used subjectively to describe irregular heart beats or accelerated heart rate, and it is likely that a proportion of palpitations also represent cases of irregular heart rhythm, which is a main characteristic of AF.”

The study was published in the May 15th edition of the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.