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The Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia Institute (TCAI) at St. David’s Medical Center recently presented a study on exercise and atrial fibrillation (A Fib)—a type of irregular heartbeat that affects many aging Americans and is tied to higher stroke risk—at the Heart Rhythm Society in Boston. The study found that “safe” levels of exercise differ for men and women who suffer from A Fib.

In the study, lead author Sanghamitra Mohanty, M.D., director of translational research at TCAI, found that moderate and vigorous levels of exercise are safe for women with A Fib, but vigorous exercise may be risky for men. Moderate exercise was defined as 15 to 30 minutes of walking five times a week, or an activity such as yoga; and vigorous exercise was defined as activities such as running, swimming, cycling and jogging.

The study found that among women, the risk of an A Fib episode was reduced by 24 percent for those who participated in moderate exercise and 15 percent who exercised vigorously. For men, however, moderate exercise reduced the risk of an A Fib episode by 19 percent and vigorous exercise raised the risk by 90 percent. Researchers also noted that the relationship between the level of physical activity and A Fib needs further evaluation in future studies, with age- and exercise-intensity-matched populations from both genders.

A Fib currently affects more than 2.7 million Americans, a number which is expected to more than double in the next 30 to 40 years. For more information about TCAI and to learn about A Fib, please visit

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