Promote low-carb diets atrial fibrillation?

Connection between low carbohydrate nutrition and cardiac arrhythmia discovered

In low-carb diets, foods high in protein and fat like these are on the menu. © lynx / istock
Read out

Heart's out of rhythm: the loss of carbohydrates can possibly promote atrial fibrillation. At least the analysis of data from a long-term study indicates this. Thus, a low-carbohydrate diet was associated with a 16 to 18 percent increased risk of cardiac arrhythmia. Whether this is a causal relationship, further investigations have yet to confirm.

Who wants to do something against his Speckpölsterchen, has the choice between felt hundreds of diets. The "low-carb diet" has recently become particularly "en vogue". Those who are eager to do without carbohydrates largely abstain from using proteins instead of grains, fruits and starchy vegetables - for example in the form of meat and eggs. But how healthy is that?

"In terms of the long-term health effects of carbohydrate withdrawal, the results are contradictory, " says Xiaodong Zhuang from Guangzhou University in China. Thus, some studies attest certain low-carb diets have a positive impact on physical and mental fitness. Others, however, conclude that high-protein diets may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, such as heart attack and stroke.

Heart rhythm disorder in view

To better understand this relationship, Zhuang's research team has now explored the role carbohydrates play in atrial fibrillation - one of the world's most common cardiac arrhythmias and a significant risk factor for stroke and heart failure.

For their study, the researchers analyzed data from a total of approximately 14, 000 subjects who had participated in a long-term study of the US National Institutes of Health between 1985 and 2016. For this study, not only the health status of the participants was recorded. They were also asked about their diet. display

Increased risk

Using this information, Zhuang and his colleagues divided the subjects into three groups: Who was carbohydrate low, who was moderate, and who was particularly high? This revealed a striking correlation: Among the nearly 1, 900 participants who received the diagnosis of atrial fibrillation over time, there were many who, according to their own sources, were low in carbohydrates. Carbohydrates made less than 44 of them, 8 percent of the daily calorie intake.

The researchers calculated that in a low-carb diet, the risk of developing atrial fibrillation was 18 percent higher than moderate carbohydrate intake. Compared to a high carbohydrate intake, the risk increased by 16 percent. "This effect was independent of the type of proteins or fats that replaced the carbohydrates, " reports Zhuang.

Cause and effect?

But how can this observation be explained? On the one hand, vegetables and cereals are known to be able to reduce inflammation in the body. If they are omitted as part of a low-carbohydrate diet, the inflammation levels may rise and this increases the risk of atrial fibrillation, as the scientists explain. On the other hand, the increased intake of proteins and fats could lead to dreadful oxidative stress.

However, before the underlying mechanisms are examined in more detail, it must first be clear that the now observed correlation is actually a causal relationship. "Although our work shows a connection, it can not prove its cause and effect, " emphasizes Zhuang.

Therefore, it is now about first to carry out further studies that reveal the exact relationship between carbohydrates and atrial fibrillation, the researchers said. (American College of Cardiology, 2019; 68th Annual Scientific Session)

Source: Amercian College Cardiology

- Daniel Albat