Chocolate May Reduce Risk Of Developing Common Heart Arrhythmia

While research has demonstrated that consumption of dark chocolate may have far-reaching benefits for heart health, new research now points to a secondary benefit for reducing the risk of developing a common heart arrhythmia known as atrial fibrillation. The research was published online yesterday in the journal Heart.

Based on the results of the study, women require only one weekly serving, while men need two to six weekly servings to gain the observed benefit.

Atrial fibrillation, which globally affects 33 million people, increases your risk of having a stroke, developing heart failure and dementia, while also elevating your overall risk of dying. Beyond that, because of the risk of forming clots from the arrhythmia itself, medicine to thin the blood—commonly known as an anticoagulant—is required. With a lifetime incidence of 25%, its precise cause is still not clear, and is currently without a cure or even a known method for primary prevention.

 Meanwhile, newer research into the pathophysiology of atrial fibrillation suggests that it may in fact develop from increased inflammation and reactive oxygen species, generated in complex chemical pathways.

In the study, the goal of the researchers was to extrapolate the benefits of chocolate—primarily dark chocolate—since this variety has been associated with improvements in cardiovascular health (reduction in rates of heart attack and heart failure secondary to anti-inflammatory and antiplatelet effects), and explore if it could have any role or benefit in reducing the risk of developing atrial fibrillation.

Researchers studied 55,502 patients (26,400 men and 29,100 women) between the ages of 50 and 64, from the Danish Diet, Cancer and Health Study, a population-based prospective cohort study, and followed the patients for 13.5 years.