According to researchers, a recent study shows that a leaky heart valve raises the risk of abnormal heart rhythms. In atrial fibrillation (AF) the upper chambers of the heart beat randomly and unsuccessfully. The condition is linked to heart attack and stroke. Researchers at the University of Texas, have now shown that having a leaky heart valve - separating the upper and lower heart chambers can lead to AF.
Blood flows backwards into the upper chamber in people with a leaky valve and this causes stress that can precipitate AF. In this study, a group of 500 patients with a leaky valve was focussed on carefully. Almost half developed AF within ten years. Since a leaky valve can be repaired, at minimal risk, by surgery, the study suggests that such interventions could be worthwhile - and will protect the future health of those who have this problem.