About one quarter of people who reach age 40 can expect to develop an irregular heartbeat, report researchers according to a recent finding. An irregular heartbeat -- or atrial fibrillation -- is a major risk factor for stroke. An atrial fibrillation causes the heart to quiver, which can lead to pooling and clotting of blood. If a blood clot breaks away and goes to the brain, a stroke results.
In a large clinical trial that followed about 4,000 men and about 4,725 women ,nine hundred and thirty-six of the participants eventually developed atrial fibrillation. Researchers say this translates to about a one in four chance a 40-year-old will end up with an irregular heartbeat. By comparison, the lifetime risk for breast cancer in women is about one in eight.
Researchers say identifying people with irregular heartbeats sooner rather than later could help save many lives, because effective treatments exist to combat the problem and they also recommend that people should have their pulse checked by a physician to screen for atrial fibrillation at every doctor's visit and at least every two years.