SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 16 (Xinhua) -- A survey of patients with atrial fibrillation (AF), one of the most important causes of irregular heartbeats, has found that the majority of triggers for the condition are easily modifiable lifestyle choices, including alcohol, caffeine, exercise and lack of sleep.
Researchers from University of California San Francisco (UCSF) surveyed 1,295 patients suffering AF, and discovered that the most common cause for AF triggers were alcohol, which accounted for 35 percent, followed by caffeine at 28 percent.
The lack of sleep had 21 percent possibility of triggering AF conditions, while exercise had a rate of 23 percent in causing irregular heartbeat among the patients, said the study, whose findings were published in the journal HeartRhythm this week.
"Almost all AF studies have to do with risk factors for the initial development of the disease," said the study's senior author Gregory Marcus, a UCSF health cardiologist.
Atrial fibrillation is one of the top causes of stroke, which is often without symptoms and hard to be detected until it actually occurs.
One in four adults aged 40 or above risks AF conditions in the United States, and the figure could climb to about 6 million people by 2050, said the study.
"Better understanding of individual-level triggers may help empower patients and represents a novel approach to improving quality of life and reducing health care use for AF," said Marcus.
The study highlights the need to explore potential ways to prevent and reduce AF episodes as the majority of AF triggers can be a matter of easily modifiable choice of lifestyle.