Could Chocolate Help Prevent Dangerous Heart Flutter?

| June 14, 2017

Cardiovascular disease, a term that generally brings to mind heart attacks and strokes, is a well-known complication of diabetes. Which is why your doctor is likely to want to keep a close eye on your cholesterol levels and blood pressure. But atrial fibrillation, what’s that? Just a bit of a fluttering heartbeat, right?

Wrong. Atrial fibrillation is serious. It can lead to strokes, blood clots, heart failure and death. What’s more, having diabetes (type 1 or 2) increases the risk of atrial fibrillation by around 50 per cent. And spotting it early could pay off, since new research shows subtle changes in heart function that lead to atrial fibrillation could be detected well before the usual indicators of raised cardiovascular risks.1

If you have atrial fibrillation, your doctor is likely to suggest that you take medication, such as a beta-blocker, verapamil or digoxin, all of which alter the electrical impulses to the heart muscle. But prevention is always better than cure, and an epidemiological study from Denmark suggests there is one surprising way to reduce the risk – eating chocolate!

The study, which examined data on more than 55,000 people aged 50 to 64, found that over a period of 13.5 years those who ate chocolate more frequently had a lower risk of atrial fibrillation.2 Compared with people who ate chocolate less than once a month, those who enjoyed it every day had around 15 per cent less risk.

As I mentioned here, dark, high-flavanol chocolate can also help prevent insulin resistance, lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol levels and more. But I’m not suggesting that eating chocolate every day means you can forget all about atrial fibrillation. It’s still a good idea to talk to your doctor about getting electrocardiogram (ECG) and echocardiogram (ultrasound scan) tests, to pick up any heartbeat problems early.

The twin epidemics of obesity and type 2 diabetes show no signs of slowing down, and it’s easy to blame them on poor diet and lack of exercise – but are these the only factors? It seems not, as I’ll explain in my next blog post.

Wishing you the best of health,

Martin Hum
PhD DHD Nutritionist
for Real Diabetes Truth

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1. Bonapace S, Valbusa F, Bertolini L et al. Early impairment in left ventricular longitudinal systolic function is associated with an increased risk of incident atrial fibrillation in patients with type 2 diabetes. J Diabetes Complications. 2017; 31(2):413-418. 

2. Mostofsky E, Berg Johansen M, Tjønneland A et al. Chocolate intake and risk of clinically apparent atrial fibrillation: the Danish Diet, Cancer, and Health Study. Heart. 2017 May 23 (Online ahead of print).

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Category: Diabetes Risks

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