Post-menopausal women with existing heart disease have less risk of having or developing atrial fibrillation if they are taking statin drugs. This finding was reported at the Heart Rhythm Society’s annual meeting in San Francisco. It appears that it’s the anti-inflammatory properties of statins that cause this. More about study…
While the news stories say “older women benefit from taking statins” (the study focused just on post-menopausal women), it’s logical that it could apply to younger women as well (maybe men, too). Since inflammation causes heart disease and post-surgical atrial fibrillation, why shouldn’t something that reduces inflammation help reduce the risk of afib at any age? It seems logical.
I tell my audiences that heart disease is forever—once you have it you’re at risk for more heart disease, stroke, and other issues. I believe that inflammation from all those chronic sinus infections (and a case of bronchitis) contributed to my heart disease at age 51 and may also have contributed to developing afib later that same year.
So if you’re a woman with Lone Atrial Fibrillation (atrial fibrillation without underlying heart disease), these results wouldn’t seem to apply to you. Or do they? I believe that many who have lone afib may also have undiagnosed heart disease. It’s heresy, I know, to say that. But since almost half of us will have (and die from) heart disease or stroke, is it logical to think that we just up and develop it one day? I don’t think so. Heart disease builds up over time, starting in our childhood.
So how could heart disease go undiagnosed in a woman? We’ve learned through the WISE (Women’s Ischemia Syndrome Evaluation) study that women’s heart disease is different from men’s and that tests that diagnose heart disease in men often aren’t as accurate for women. For example, treadmill stress tests accurately pick up heart disease in men about 2/3 of the time, but it’s only about 1/3 of the time in women. The same applies to other tests that work well for men. Women may need different tests to find their heart disease, so just because a test came back clean doesn’t necessarily mean that you don’t have any heart disease.
So what can you do if you don’t want to take statin drugs? Lots of folks don’t. Would a naturally-occurring statin (such as red yeast rice) or a natural anti-inflammatory agent work? Logic says that they might, though I haven’t seen any randomized studies confirming that. (This isn’t medical advice – just my ramblings – so you’ll have to make your own decisions.)
Bottom line for women: Finding ways to reduce inflammation could help control afib or reduce your risk of having it.
Does that work for men, too? Perhaps so.
For some ideas on naturally-occurring statins and natural anti-inflammatories check out these resources: