Irregular heartbeat? THIS hidden heart condition has been linked to higher DEATH risk

An irregular heartbeat is properly known as atrial fibrillation (AF), and it affects 33 million people worldwide.

It can sometimes go undetected since some people may show no symptoms, such as palpitations or dizziness, and it may only be spotted during routine tests or investigations for another condition.

However, researchers have warned that those with AF who also have another long-term health condition could be at a higher risk of death.

In a study by the University of Glasgow, scientists found that young or middle-aged sufferers were more likely to die prematurely than those without other conditions.

Researchers discovered that patients with AF were at an increased risk of death over a follow-up period of between five and ten years.

They discovered that those who had four or more long-term health conditions were six times more likely to die than those without any long-term conditions.

Other health conditions sufferers in the study also had included chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and osteoporosis.

The findings have led them to suggest that patients with other long-term conditions should be prioritised for higher levels of monitoring.

“We have shown that young and middle-aged patients with atrial fibrillation and one or more other long chronic illnesses are at increased risk of death over a follow-up period of 5 to 10 years,” said Frances Mair, lead study author from the University of Glasgow.

“This suggests that these patients should be prioritised for interventions to enhance their adherence to treatment, and in some cases to adjust their lifestyle in order to reduce the impact of their other chronic illnesses on survival.”

In the study, researchers used UK Biobank data to look at the problem for having multimorbidity, meaning two or more health conditions, for those with AF.

They studied 3,651 people with the heart rate condition.

"Future clinical guidelines for AF need to take greater account of co-morbidity,” said Dr Bhautesh Jani, NRS Career Research Fellow.

“Young and middle aged patients with AF and multiple co-morbidities may need closer monitoring by health professionals as they are at higher risk of dying.”

AF is the most common sustained heart rhythm abnormality.

The number of sufferers is increasing due to the prevalence of lifestyle related cardiovascular disease risk factors.