Over the recent years, several studies – including studies conducted by afib.no-network members – have demonstrated that prolonged endurance exercise is associated with an increased risk of atrial fibrillation. At the same time more moderate physical activity reduces the risk of AF, resulting in a J-shaped association-curve.
In a paper by Bente Morseth and co-authors from the network, recently published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, possible explanations and underlying mechanisms for this association is discussed. While reduction of cardiovascular risk factors seems to be the most important mechanisms behind the reduced risk of AF in moderately active individuals, the underlying pathophysiology for AF in highly active individuals seems to be more complex. In this paper, the authors review the evidence for several hypothesized mechanisms for exercise-induced atrial fibrillation, but also discuss how the choice of study populations might have influenced study results.