AF Association
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Causes of AF

I have endured infrequent PAF for 16 years triggered by excessive caffiene and stressful social situations. What I would like to find out is the history of AF. Reading the various posts on this wonderful site one gets the impession that AF is a growing problem amongst the population. Is this due to an ageing population or is it due to modern environmental issues such as the increased usage of mobile phones and other electronic devices. Has AF always been around but due to the efforts of the AFA it has become more understood? I realise this is standing back and looking at the wider aspect of AF but I would like to understand a bit more about the history of this frustrating and at times scary condition.

11 Replies

Hi lofty

I think a bit of all three, history tells us that people with "palpitations" were often sent home with no treatment or dismissed as being "nervous" now we can diagnose AF much better.

We are an ageing population of course and we know that AF mainly affects the over 60s and lastly modern life, but which part? Electro magnetic waves, or processed food? not sure anyone knows

Be well


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My candidates are the next three:

- better diagnostic devices

- aging population

- less physical activity

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Age and valvular disease


Hi lofty1,

My take on it is that it (AF) is all things to all people!

In my own case, over several years I can identify electromagnetic hypersensitivity ( from carrying my cellphone in my shirt pocket), to palpitations, to AF, to food triggering an AF event, to changes in lifestyle.

Can't exclude a genetic predisposition either.

Take your pick!

Just look at the modern home riddled with all its modern electric gizmos - compared to 50 years ago!

So I reckon it's a mix of genetic predisposition, ageing population and environmental issues coming into play.



Having been part of AFA since inception I would like to think that a lot of the reporting is down to better understanding of the condition.

Until twenty five years ago you would most likely have been told that it was a benign nuisance and to go and get on with life. Many ladies of a certain age will have been fobbed off with hysteria for their palpitations. The link with stoke was less understood until about 2007 when anticoagulation gained importance as knowledge was gleaned.

Another thing especially where younger people is concerned is the increase in binge drinking and on another front more and more people who force their bodies to greater and greater physical activity. If you think about the increase in such activities as triathlon, marathon running and iron man contests over this period you start to see a trend. Some commonly used drugs such as ibuprofen have been shown to cause AF so adding all these up what do you have? An increase in causes plus better reporting and diagnosis.

Yes AF has always been around. It can be genetic and it can also be acquired. A predisposition can then be triggered into action.

I do not think that there is a growing problem frankly . Six or seven years ago we thought that probably a million people in UK were diagnosed and probably a quarter of a million not so diagnosed and I do not think those numbers have changed significantly.

EMF? There are those who believe this may be contributory but the sheer volume of random magnetic and radio interference present wherever we are (unless in wilderness country) would make proving that impossible. As a matter of interest some twenty years ago I flagged up a health and safety issue regarding an electrical substation which had been installed underneath my office in London. Men in white coats came in and did lots of measurements only to prove that there was in fact more EMF outside on the pavement than at my desk thanks to all the cables both electrical and telephone buried there.


It is something that no one has a definitive answer on. I think it just came into our collective consciousness within the last 20 years and has steadily grown. Stress was definitely my causation.

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And an hereditary element. Grandmother diagnosed at 70 and still going strong with it at 89. Mother diagnosed at 58 and died at 63, me diagnosed at 48 and ok with meds, son diagnosed 27 and one ablation so far... coincidence or hereditary?


I think it makes ya go - Hmmmm?. * I am the only one in my family with AF.


Modern farming and food processing methods lead to less magnesium and other essential minerals/vitamins in our food compared with fifty years ago and more, which must also be a contributory factor.


Food production, ready meals and general processing. Obesity.


All of the above plus artificial sweeteners (especially aspartame which is really nasty), flavourings and colourings.


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