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Keywords:

  • Atrial fibrillation;
  • fibrosis;
  • obesity;
  • pericardial fat

Summary

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is an increasing public health problem, often described as the epidemic of the new millennium. The rising health economic impact of AF, its association with poor quality of life and independent probability of increased mortality, has recently been highlighted. Although population ageing is regarded as an important contributor to this epidemic, obesity and its associated cardiometabolic comorbidities may represent the principal driving factor behind the current and projected AF epidemic. Obesity-related risk factors, such as hypertension, vascular disease, obstructive sleep apnea and pericardial fat, are thought to result in atrial electro-structural dysfunction. In addition, insulin resistance, its associated abnormalities in nutrient utilization and intermediary metabolic by-products are associated with structural and functional abnormalities, ultimately promoting AF. Recent elucidation of molecular pathways, including those responsible for atrial fibrosis, have provided mechanistic insights and the potential for targeted pharmacotherapy. In this article, we review the evidence for an obesity-related atrial electromechanical dysfunction, the mechanisms behind this and its impact on AF therapeutic outcomes. In light of the recently described mechanisms, we illustrate proposed management approaches and avenues for further investigations.