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Does a Big Belly Cause AFib?

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Obesity rates in America are skyrocketing. As a country, we are fatter than ever. Meanwhile, atrial fibrillation is also on the rise. Coincidence? AFib is one of the most common heart rhythm disorders, affecting millions of people worldwide and frequently coexisting with obesity.

How does weight impact AFib?

A study published in the Journal of American College and Cardiology suggests that obesity can cause an irregular heart rate.  In fact, obesity doubles the risk of AFib. Extra fat around the middle of the body is hard on the heart. Another study published in the BMJ Journals found that a five percent weight gain increases AFib risk by 13 percent.

Typically, the upper chambers of the heart function as a natural pacemaker. They send out an electrical signal to the lower chambers or ventricles. Obesity changes these electrical signals. Eventually, the left ventricle, or the heart’s main pumping chamber, becomes damaged.

Being overweight also leads to other health issues that increase your risk of developing AFib, such as:

  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Sleep apnea
  • Diabetes
  • Inflammation — the root cause of most disease   

The bottom line: Being overweight stresses the entire body — including the heart.

Excess weight increases your chances of developing severe health conditions that lead to AFib. But fear not, there is a natural approach to reducing or eliminating AFib, and it begins with weight loss.  

Will losing weight stop my AFib?

A study from the Journal of American College and Cardiology suggests that obesity and AFib often go hand-in-hand. But here’s the good news. Losing even a small amount of weight and keeping it off can significantly improve heart rhythm and quality of life. 

The study found that patients who lost over 10 percent of their body weight had a greater chance of living AFib-free than those who did not. They also experienced less fatigue and shortness of breath. 

What’s more, maintaining a healthy weight may even prevent or delay the development of AFib. But again, the key is weight management. It seems that those whose weight fluctuates are more likely to experience irregular heartbeats.

Why is obesity a risk factor for AFib?

Did you know that there is a vicious cycle between obesity and inflammation? Extra weight equals excessive inflammation. Excessive inflammation triggers AFib.

Research from the journal Nature Review Cardiology suggests a link between inflammation and its immune response and AFib. Meanwhile, conditions related to AFib are also linked to low-grade inflammation. It’s vital to get your inflammation under control now. One of the best ways to do this is through proper nutrition — which ultimately leads to weight loss.

Both obesity and AFib are linked to heart disease, sleep disorders, and diabetes. Losing those extra pounds could protect your heart and keep AFib under control. 

Tackling obesity and AFib

Losing weight is not easy. It takes dedication, perseverance, and may require you to overcome and replace unhealthy habits such as lack of physical activity and sleep, stress, and poor nutritional choices.

Lack of physical activity contributes to weight gain

Moving is essential for good health and weight loss. Being active has numerous benefits. It can:

  • Regulate metabolism and weight
  • Improve mental health
  • Enhance cardiovascular health
  • Boost energy
  • Encourage better sleep
  • Reduce stress

When you have AFib, the idea of exercising can be scary. Start slow with five to 10 minutes of walking each day. Ultimately, your goal is 30 minutes of activity per day, five days per week. To get a good workout, breathe a little faster, sweat a little, and increase your heart rate.

Bad sleep habits lead to weight gain

A study published in the HeartRhythm Journal found that poor-quality sleep, which includes waking during the night, increases your risk of developing AFib.

Research suggests that the less you sleep, the more likely you are to be obese. This is partly due to the hormones released during sleep that control appetite — ghrelin and leptin. Not enough sleep also leads to daytime fatigue, which means you’ll exercise less.

To improve sleep, go to bed in a cool, dark room, unplug electronics at least an hour before bed, follow the same sleep schedule daily, avoid nighttime snacking, and go to bed as soon after sundown as possible.

Chronic stress leads to weight gain

When you’re under stress, psychological and hormonal factors are at play. Cortisol (the stress hormone) rises, increasing appetite and making you crave sugary carbs. Chronic stress leads to elevated cortisol levels, which stimulates your appetite full-time, resulting in weight gain.

Managing stress may seem overwhelming, but adopting healthy habits such as journaling, exercising, deep breathing, meditation, and spending time in nature helps regulate your stress and anxiety levels.

Poor nutritional choices lead to weight gain

The traditional government food pyramid is not your best resource for healthy eating. It recommends excessive grain, dairy, and other inflammatory foods. The western diet is one of the unhealthiest in the world, loaded with fast junk food and lacking in whole foods and healthy fats.

Nutritional tips for Afib

If you aim to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight and reverse your AFib, ditch the standard American diet and adopt the 100 Year Heart Diet.

The 100 Year Heart Diet includes whole, organic foods like lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. This diet lowers inflammation, boosts blood flow, increases oxygen and energy uptake in cells, stabilizes and strengthens cellular membranes, normalizes heart rhythm, and helps you lose weight.

Next steps

Obesity is one of the major triggers for AFib, and it is clear from the research that losing even a little weight can make a tremendous difference. We know how hard it can be to get started on a weight loss journey, so we have developed tools to help you succeed. Schedule a free health coaching call to see how we can help you claim your 100 Year Heart.

Eat Well · Live Well · Think Well 

Medical Review 2022: Dr. Lauren Lattanza NMD


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Dr. Smigiel helps people suffering from conditions such as chronic pain and erectile dysfunction, to hair loss and weight gain. Combining treatments such as PRP Therapy, Ozone, Neural Prolotherapy, and IV Infusions with functional rehabilitation, he helps you look and feel better.

He heals the body, instead of just treating the symptoms!

With his professional qualifications as a certified family nurse practitioner, a doctor of chiropractic, and a fellow of the International Academy of Medical Acupuncture, Dr. Smigiel offers patients comprehensive care from a broad perspective of conventional and alternative medicine. He also has extensive experience in functional rehabilitation and chronic pain management.

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About Dr. James Kneller, M.D., Ph.D., FHRS

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Dr. James Kneller is one of the nation’s leading heart rhythm specialists. Dr. Kneller is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) in Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology, Cardiovascular Disease, and Internal Medicine.

As a Fellow of the Heart Rhythm Society (FHRS) and Certified Cardiac Device Specialist (CCDS), Kneller provides comprehensive patient care, combining best medical practice with invasive procedures using state-of-the-art technologies to treat heart rhythm disorders.

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About Dr. Lauren Lattanza NMD, FACC

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As a Naturopathic Physician, I am trained to treat the whole person and get to the root cause of disease.

I went to Arizona State University where I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a depth in physiology and minor in Spanish. After my undergraduate degree I was working on prerequisite classes towards medical school, which is when I came to learn that my values identified best with the principles of naturopathic medicine. I knew that I wanted to help patients identify the causes of disease and be able to offer treatments which would improve their health rather than simply treating symptoms.

I dedicated the next 4 years to the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Tempe, Arizona where I attained my Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine. I served as Class President all 4 years, Board of Trustees – Student Trustee, spoke as the Club President for our branch of Toastmasters, and was voted by my peers and attending physicians to earn the Outstanding Leadership Award for the Class of 2020. Throughout medical school I took it upon myself to work alongside MDs, DOs, chiropractors, and functional medicine practitioners in addition to naturopathic physicians.

As a Spanish speaking student, I was able to volunteer with community clinics around Phoenix and provide free healthcare to low-income families. Due to this combined exposure, I came to find my passion in treating cardiometabolic and digestive disorders that are all too common, yet largely preventable. I took the opportunity to learn the broad spectrum of healthcare so I can ensure that I am able to provide my patients with the best options.

About Dr. Jack Wolfson DO, FACC

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Dr. Jack Wolfson is a board-certified cardiologist, Amazon best-selling author, husband, father, and the nation’s #1 Natural Heart Doctor.

For more than two decades, more than one million people have enjoyed the warmth, compassion, and transformational power of his natural heart health courses and events.

Dr. Wolfson is the founder of Natural Heart Doctor Scottsdale, his heart health practice in Arizona, and Natural Heart Doctor, an online resource center with natural health information. Doctors from across the globe reach out to Dr. Wolfson for training and education in holistic health practices.

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Dr. Wolfson and his wife Heather have four children and are committed to making the world a better place to live. They provide for those in need (including animals) and support natural health causes through their philanthropic efforts.


Our chiropractor is an expert at adjustments and holistic chiropractic care and works closely in conjunction with the other health care experts at Natural Heart Doctor.

Call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

IV Therapy

We use specially formulated natural vitamins and minerals that are injected into a vein to prevent or treat dehydration. Ideal for people in Arizona.

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Stimulate your body’s natural healing abilities and promote physical and emotional well-being with acupuncture at Natural Heart Doctor.

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Health Coaching

Our health coaches use evidence based skillful conversation, clinical interventions, and strategies to engage you actively and safely in health behavior changes.

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We use the most advanced testing in the world to assess heart health and to identify the root cause of your health issues.

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Schedule an office visit with one of our cardiologists, holistic physicians, chiropractor, or health coaches.

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Frequently Asked Questions

I’d like to receive an online second opinion from Natural Heart Doctor. What do I do next?

You can initiate a second opinion online through our website at any time. To begin, select the team member you’d like to speak with and open an account.

Click here for cardiologist Dr. Jack Wolfson.

Naturopathic Medical Doctor Dr. Lauren Lattanza. Get details.

Naturopathic Medical Doctor Dr. Tonia Rainier. Get details.

Click here for  Natural Heart Doctor Health Coach.

Alternatively, you can email health@naturalheartdoctor.com. A member of our care team will help guide you through the process of starting a second opinion.

What is the cost of a Natural Heart Doctor Online Second Opinion?

The cost for most second opinions varies by team member. This fee includes information collection, a phone or video consultation, a second opinion from a Natural Heart Doctor specialist and guidance throughout the process from your personal Care Team at Natural Heart Doctor.

Cardiologist Dr. Jack Wolfson’s Second Opinion Fee is $1500.

Holistic Physician’s Dr. Lauren Lattanza’s Second Opinion Fee is $250.

Naturopathic Physician Dr. Tonia Rainier’s Second Opinion Fee is $250.

Note: We apply the Online Second Opinion Call fee as a credit to any future consultations with Natural Heart Doctor, should you choose them.

Will my insurance cover the cost of a Natural Heart Doctor Online Second Opinion?

Most likely, no. Most health plans do not cover online second opinions or consultations. You are responsible for the cost of our second opinion. Natural Heart Doctor cannot file a claim with your insurance carrier, nor can we provide a procedure (CPT) code for this service.

What is the timeline to receive an online second opinion?

We do our best to schedule your second opinion as quickly as possible. Typically, it takes 5 to 7 business days after your information has been collected to receive your phone or video online second opinion.

What information do you need in advance of our call?

Our office will send you a short questionnaire to complete and return. We DO NOT need your complete medical records.

How many questions can I ask the expert during our call?

You may ask a maximum of five questions. This is to ensure that the expert has sufficient time to devote to each question. All questions must be finalized before your online meeting.

What should I expect to receive once my second opinion is complete?

You will receive a summary of our discussion along with our second opinion. The second opinion will be in written form. After you have reviewed the second opinion, a Natural Heart Doctor clinician will follow up with you by phone to address general medical questions about the information provided in the second opinion.

What if I have follow-up questions for the expert after I have reviewed my second opinion?

If you have a clarifying question about an expert’s response to one of the questions in your second opinion, and the Natural Heart Doctor clinician is unable to address it, then you may request a follow up session for an additional fee. 

Is my medical and payment information secure?

Natural Heart Doctor is strongly committed to protecting the privacy and security of all our patients. Our website meets all federal requirements for protecting personal health information under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). All financial transactions are processed by Natural Heart Doctor securely using industry standard payment processing tools.

I would rather visit Natural Heart Doctor for an in-person appointment. What should I do next?

If you would prefer an in-person appointment at Natural Heart Doctor instead of an online second opinion, please call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

Can I schedule a follow up appointment with the specialist who provided my online second opinion?

Yes, we’re happy to help you on an extended basis. Our clinician can discuss options with you when presenting our second opinion summary.