Irregular heartbeat is also known as atrial fibrillation, which is common and potentially serious.
Dr. Thomas Wang and colleagues from Harvard and six other institutions are researchers on the Framingham Heart Study in Massachusetts. They've been using that data to find out now if simply being very overweight could trigger an irregular heartbeat.
Here's what they've decided and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
"What we found is that obesity was associated with an approximately 50% increase in the risk of developing atrial fibrillation," says Dr. Thomas Wang, with the Framingham Heart Study.
Researchers tracked more than 5,000 people for about 15 years to come to this conclusion. John Nagle says he's not surprised to learn that his weight could be the reason for his irregular heartbeat.
"My heart is really laboring to breathe walking up a flight of stairs or even a slight hill. So the more weight I put on I can tell the harder it is for the heart to work," says John Nagle, irregular heartbeat.
So, this report brings one more reason the message here is weight loss can be good for the heart. The good news is there is medication that can help make an irregular heartbeat regular again, but the patient may have to take those drugs for years and deal with potential side effects.
Dr. Wang says the better news is that we know now a patient could lose weight, knowing that it could prevent the irregular heartbeat in the first place.