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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Arrhythmia-provoking factors and symptoms at the onset of paroxysmal atrial fibrillation: A study based on interviews with 100 patients seeking hospital assistance

Anders Hansson*, Bjarne Madsen-Härdig and S Bertil Olsson

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Department of Cardiology, University Hospital, Lund, Sweden

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Citation and License

BMC Cardiovascular Disorders 2004, 4:13  doi:10.1186/1471-2261-4-13

Published: 3 August 2004

Abstract

Background

Surprisingly little information on symptoms of paroxysmal atrial fibrillation is available in scientific literature. Using questionnaires, we have analyzed the symptoms associated with arrhythmia attacks.

Methods

One hundred randomly-selected patients with idiopathic paroxysmal atrial fibrillation filled in a structured questionnaire.

Results

Psychic stress was the most common factor triggering arrhythmia (54%), followed by physical exertion (42%), tiredness (41%) coffee (25%) and infections (22%). Thirty-four patients cited alcohol, 26 in the form of red wine, 16 as white wine and 26 as spirits. Among these 34, red wine and spirits produced significantly more episodes of arrhythmia than white wine (p = 0.01 and 0.005 respectively).

Symptoms during arrhythmia were palpitations while exerting (88%), reduced physical ability (87%), palpitations at rest (86%), shortage of breath during exertion (70%) and anxiety (59%). Significant differences between sexes were noted regarding swollen legs (women 21%, men 6%, p = 0.027), nausea (women 36%, men 13%, p = 0.012) and anxiety (females 79%, males 51%, p = 0.014).

Conclusion

Psychic stress was the commonest triggering factor in hospitalized patients with paroxysmal atrial fibrillation. Red wine and spirits were more proarrhythmic than white wine. Symptoms in women in connection with attacks of arrhythmia vary somewhat from those in men.

Keywords:
Paroxysmal atrial arrhythmia; triggering factors; symptoms; alcohol.