Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common arrhythmia in humans. AF in children under 50 years of age occurs in less than 1% of the population, but its incidence increases with age, affecting up to 10% of those over 80 years.
However, it has been known for some years that the usual practice of sports influences the development of AF. In fact, their appearance is more frequent in endurance athletes who are highly trained and who have spent years doing very intense and stressful exercises. In addition, between the ages of 40 and 50, the occurrence of AF in this patient profile is more frequent than in people of their age who have not performed those levels of exercise.
Causes of Atrial Fibrillation
There are several causes that explain it, among which stand out
- Continued sport generates fibrosis in the atria (such as premature aging)
- High parasympathetic tone at rest causes bradycardia (less than 60 beats per minute)
As in the general population, the focus that usually triggers it is found in the pulmonary veins.
Treatment of Atrial Fibrillation
The options of treatment of the FA in athletes are:
- Reduce the practice of sport : the problem is that most athletes are not willing to do so. In addition, although the degree of training is reduced, it is often not possible to improve the pathology once it has started.
- Drugs : In many cases are not a good option, as they produce bradycardia and can reduce sports performance.
- Electrical isolation of the pulmonary veins : performed with radiofrequency or cryobalon. It is the best option in many cases, especially in those patients who want to continue to practice sports and / or have symptomatic seizures.
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