A new study has revealed that frequent vigorous exercise can lead to the development of atrial fibrillation. The latter is a heart disorder where the upper heart chambers of the heart beat in an abnormal manner and can lead to fainting, heart failure and stroke.
Researchers from the New York University Medical Center examined data from 16,921 men who participated in the Physicians' Health Study. Some 1661 men reported that they developed atrial fibrillation, during follow-up.
"Although vigorous exercise has numerous health benefits, case reports and limited data suggest that elite athletic men engaging in endurance exercise...may be at higher risk for the development of atrial fibrillation," said lead author Dr. Anthony Aizer.
Vigorous exercise 5 to 7 days per week increases the risk of AF by 20% although the association seemed to be greater in men younger than 50 years of age.
The details of the study appear in the American Journal of Cardiology.