January 26, 2022

Atrial fibrillation and sports practice: “the contraindications are exceptional”


  • The practice of high endurance sports and a sedentary lifestyle promote the occurrence of atrial fibrillation.
  • It is possible to participate in sports when you have atrial fibrillation.
  • Playing sports helps prevent this heart rhythm disorder.

Obesity, coronary artery disease, sleep apnea … Several factors can promote the occurrence of atrial fibrillation, namely a heart rhythm disorder which accelerates the heart and makes it beat irregularly. According to Professor Philippe Chevalier, rhythmologist at the CHU de Lyon, the practice of high endurance sports also predisposes to atrial fibrillation.

“Athletes who practice physical activity for more than 15 to 20 hours per week increase their risk of developing arrhythmia. If an athlete contracts this pathology, it is possible to treat him by means of ablation techniques, with a benefit ratio. extremely favorable risk and success rates of 80 to 90% “, he specifies.

According to the specialist, a sedentary lifestyle is also a factor that favors the occurrence of atrial fibrillation. People who have a sedentary lifestyle are at as much risk of developing an arrhythmia as athletes who play sports. “in high doses”. “We have to find the right balance”, he adds.

Sport is compatible with atrial fibrillation

Prof. Philippe Chevalier indicates that patients with this heart rhythm disorder can continue to play sports. “The contraindications to sports practice in the event of atrial fibrillation are exceptional. Always ask your doctor for specific arguments if he prohibits you from practicing a sports activity”, advises the healthcare professional.

Exercising for three to six hours a week also helps prevent arrhythmia. “Sport is beneficial. Certain scientific studies, carried out on healthy patients, have clearly demonstrated its antiarrhythmic effect”, declares the professor. He explains that walking, cycling or running protects against high blood pressure, which is the number one risk factor for strokes and atrial fibrillation.

“When we play sports, we lose sodium. The result: our blood pressure decreases and our heart breathes, that is to say that it will not work in excessive barometric conditions. The organ will not work. neither stretch nor hypertrophy. It will be at rest, therefore the arteries will dilate. This will be extremely beneficial both at the muscular and vascular level. Clearly, sport protects our heart “, develops the specialist.

Below, the interview with Prof. Philippe Chevalier, rhythmologist at the CHU de Lyon: