Low-Carb Diet For Weight Loss Linked To Atrial Fibrillation

People who opt to commit to low-carb diets have been found to be at high risk of developing a heart disorder linked to stroke. A new study shows that cutting carbohydrates could lead to atrial fibrillation, the most common heart rhythm disorder. 

AFib causes the heart to delay its beat or keep pace the way it should, which could lead to palpitations, dizziness, fatigue and even heart failure. The heart problem also makes people five times more likely to have a stroke, EurekAlert reported Wednesday

"Considering the potential influence on arrhythmia, our study suggests this popular weight control method should be recommended cautiously,” Xiaodong Zhuang, a cardiologist at the hospital affiliated with Sun Yat-Sen University in Guangzhou, China and study lead author, said. 

The latest findings come from a two-decade analysis of the effects of carbohydrate intake in nearly 14,000 people. Researchers described the study as the first and largest to assess the relationship between carbohydrate intake and AFib.

The participants who reported regular low carbohydrate intake were found 18 percent more likely to develop AFib than those with moderate carbohydrate intake.

"Low carbohydrate diets were associated with increased risk of incident AFib regardless of the type of protein or fat used to replace the carbohydrate," Zhuang noted. 

He said the low consumption of vegetables, fruits and grains in low-carb diets potentially contributed to the increased the risk of developing the heart disorder. Such food items could reduce inflammation, a condition linked to AFib. 

The diet also leads to high intake of protein and fat that may cause oxidative stress, which has also been associated with AFib.

The study also backs previous research that associated both low-carbohydrate and high-carbohydrate diets with an increased risk of death. 

However, Zhuang noted further research is required to confirm the relationship between carbohydrate intake and AFib. He said future studies should focus on a more ethnically diverse population.

The latest study also did not account for any changes in diet that participants may have experienced after completing a questionnaire during the initial part of the research. 

Zhuang will present the study at the American College of Cardiology's 68th Annual Scientific Session on March 16 in New Orleans.