Women with breast cancer more prone to atrial fibrillation, study says

Mammograms used to screen women for breast cancer can also indicate the patient's risk for cardiovascular diseases. REUTERS

A new study conducted by a team of researchers at the in Denmark has found that women with breast cancer are more prone to developing atrial fibrillation in the future. The study report published in HeartRhythm, the official journal of the Heart Rhythm Society and the Cardiac Electrophysiology Society revealed that women with breast cancer have an increased occurrence of atrial fibrillation within three years after diagnosis when compared to other women of the same age with normal health conditions.

Medical experts believe that breast cancer will induce inflammation in the human body, and it might be the reason behind the increased risk of developing atrial fibrillation among the victims. It should be also noted that breast cancer is one of the most common cancers found in women worldwide, and there are more than 2 million worldwide cases reported last year.

"Modern treatment regimens ensure that approximately 80 percent of breast cancer patients become long-term survivors. Healthy survivorship can be threatened, however, by long-term complications resulting from both the cancer and related treatments. Notably, increased frequencies of cardiovascular disease, especially heart failure and ischemic heart disease, have been observed in survivors. We hypothesized that women with breast cancer could also be more prone to developing AF because breast cancer induces inflammation," said Maria D'Souza, MD, of the Herlev and Gentofte Hospital, Cardiology Department, Hellerup, Denmark and the lead investigator of the study.

During the study, researchers also found that the risk of developing atrial fibrillation among breast cancer victims is dependent on age and time since diagnosis. Breast cancer victims who are less than sixty years old a more than doubled risk in the first six months after diagnosis, while the risk increases to by an eighty percent until three years after the diagnosis.

However, people who are above the age of sixty holds a similar risk of developing atrial fibrillation like the general public in the first six months, while the risk increases by fourteen percent within six to three years after the diagnosis.

The research report also added that further research should be conducted to determine whether any other shared risk factors are contributing to the development of atrial fibrillation in the human body.