Wednesday 17 Sep 2014

Information and opinions presented here do not always represent the views of the American Heart Association.

Small vessel changes in eye, kidney clues to risky heart rhythm

Published: 3:08 pm CDT, November 18, 2013

People with damage in the small blood vessels of the retina and kidneys are at increased risk to develop the most common type of abnormal heart rhythm, according to research presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2013.

Atrial fibrillation raises the risk of stroke and causes heart-related chest pain or heart failure in some people.

Researchers followed 10,009 middle-aged people for an average 13.6 years. Atrial fibrillation developed at a rate of:

  • 5.7 incidences per 1,000 person-years in those with no retina or kidney changes.
  • 8.9 incidences per 1,000 person-years in those with signs of small vessel damage in the retina, such as micro-bleeds or micro-aneurysms.
  • 16.8 incidences per 1,000 person-years in those with signs of vessel damage in the kidneys, allowing tiny amounts of protein to be released into their urine (micro-albuminuria).
  • 24.4 incidences per 1,000 person-years in those with both retinopathy and micro-albuminuria.