A new study warns obesity can render certain drugs used to treat atrial fibrillation (AFib), an irregular heartbeat, ineffective. The study's findings were originally published in the journal JAMA Cardiology.
Researchers monitored almost 300 patients listed in the University of Illinois at Chicago's AFib Registry for the study. The team discovered a class of medicines used to treat AFib called sodium channel blockers were not yielding good results in obese patients.
The findings also revealed there is a 30 per cent risk of heart arrhythmia occurring again for patients. Meanwhile, the recurrence rate for patients who were not obese was only 6 per cent.
While study author Dr Dawood Darbar, who is the cardiology at the university's College of Medicine, said this is alarming news for obese patients,there may be another way to treat obese patients. Through their investigation, the team found a class of drugs called potassium channel blockers could be more effective in obese patients.
"This is the first time anyone has shown that there is a differential response to anti-arrhythmic drugs for AFib," Darbar told a news portal. Adding, "As 50% of the patients in our AFib Registry are obese, this provided us with a unique opportunity to determine whether obesity affected response to drug treatment."
For Dr Satjit Bhusri, a cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, the findings seem plausible. "Most antiarrhythmic drugs distribute throughout the body and are absorbed by many organs," Bhusri, who was not part of the study, told a news portal. Adding, "Since these drugs require a large dose to reach a steady level in the blood, those patients that are obese may well be under-treated — they may require increased dosing compared to thinner patients."
The findings offer hope for obese patients with the condition. Darbar told a news portal said "having treatment options to better manage AFib would greatly improve quality of life and could prevent the risk of serious complications, like stroke, which can cause early death."
Obesity has become a huge epidemic across the globe and increasing the risk of a host of health issues like diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
A recent study, published in the PLOS, found obesity can increase the risk of early death from non-communicable diseases.
Study author Jenny Censin told a news portal "this study shows just how harmful carrying excess weight can be to human health, and that women and men may experience different diseases as a result."