Overweight men are more likely to develop irregular heartbeat at 50 years of age, nearly a decade earlier than women, according to a study.
This increase was attributed majorly to a higher body mass index (BMI) in men (31 per cent) compared to women (18 per cent).
"We advise weight reduction for both men and women," said Christina Magnussen, medical specialist at the University Heart Center in Hamburg, Germany.
"As elevated body mass index seems to be more detrimental for men, weight control seems to be essential, particularly in overweight and obese men," Magnussen added.
Further, higher blood levels of C-reactive protein (inflammation marker) was also found to increase the risk in elderly men.
All these combined increased the risk of stroke by five times as well as more than tripled a person's risk of dying by heart-related causes,the researchers said, in the paper published in the journal Circulation.
"It's crucial to better understand modifiable risk factors of atrial fibrillation," Magnussen said.
"If prevention strategies succeed in targeting these risk factors, we expect a noticeable decline in new-onset atrial fibrillation," he noted.
For the study, the team reviewed records of 79,793 people (aged 24 to 97) who were followed for a period of 12.6 to a maximum of 28.2 years.
The condition developed in about 24 per cent of both men and women by age 90.