The Link Between Asthma and Atrial Fibrillation

The Link Between Asthma and Atrial Fibrillation

According to research, the risk of developing AFib (atrial fibrillation) increases in the case of poorly controlled asthma. And, although it may sound illogical that a heart condition can have anything to do with a respiratory condition, asthma, especially its levels of control, and atrial fibrillation could be closely connected. Now, if you want to understand the link, just read on to find out more.

What is Atrial Fibrillation?

In brief, atrial fibrillation is an abnormal, irregular, and fast heartbeat which remarkably increases the risk of having a stroke and is the number one heart rate issue people have. It occurs when the two upper chambers of the heart contract rapidly and out of sync making the heart quiver or fibrillate leading to blood clots forming in the heart.

Then, these blood clots can travel, i.e. circulate, to other organs and block blood flow. And, when a blood clot circulates to the brain, which often happens, it can cause a stroke. If left untreated, atrial fibrillation can weaken the heart which can eventually lead to heart failure. That said, if you notice any AFib symptoms including chest pain, fatigue, and shortness of breath, ensure you consult your doctor as soon as possible and get treatment.

What is Asthma?

Put shortly, a condition characterized by narrowed and swollen airways and extra mucus is called asthma. The condition makes breathing difficult and may trigger coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. Furthermore, it may be a minor nuisance for some, while for others asthma may be a major health issue interfering with their everyday life. In the worst-case scenario, one could have an asthma attack that can lead to death.

What’s more, while asthma itself can’t be cured, its symptoms may be relieved and controlled which is why seeking medical treatment is crucial. Plus, as the condition often changes over time, tracking signs and symptoms are also important for getting the treatment needed. Typical asthma symptoms include chest tightness, chest pain, wheezing when exhaling, coughing, shortness of breath, and sleeping issues caused by coughing and wheezing.

Asthma and Atrial Fibrillation Risk

According to a study, people with uncontrolled asthma are at a 74% higher risk of developing AFib than those with no asthma. Also, the risk is remarkably lower in those that partly or completely controlled their asthma.

Data also indicates that there’s a slightly lower than 50% risk of suffering from atrial fibrillation, especially in those controlling their asthma with medication. Namely, 98% of asthma patients have abnormal levels of potassium which is linked to the use of specific medications called β2-agonists. These unusual levels can then lead to heart issues as the medication can increase the heart rate, decrease potassium levels, and even improve blood glucose levels, especially when β2-agonists are given in high doses.

Luckily, these complications could be prevented by avoiding the overuse of such medications and controlling your treatment regularly with your doctor. Plus, besides taking medications, reducing your exposure to triggers is also one of the key elements of asthma control, as well as regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight.


Finally, although there’s a link between atrial fibrillation and asthma, further research is much more than needed. Also, remember that not all asthma patients are getting atrial fibrillation. In other words, the risk of developing this coronary risk increases with uncontrolled asthma. So, ensure you control and check your condition regularly.