Research: Low-carb diets may increase risk of heart disorder

Research wordResearch word

Low carbohydrate diets are not without risk.  

Low Carbohydrate

Low Carbohydrate

Low carbohydrate diets are at near epidemic levels and you cannot walk in a gym and throw a rock without hitting a half-dozen people that are currently following one form of the diet or another.   Restricting carbohydrates has become a popular way to lose weight quickly in recent years.  There are many different low-carbohydrate diets to include the Adkins, ketogenic, paleo, Protein Power and South Beach diets.  The low-carbohydrate books would like you to think that carbohydrates are the enemy, but reducing your carbohydrate intake might not be the panacea for good health that they want you to believe it is.  

Most of these diets emphasize increasing proteins while limiting intake calories from grains, fruits, legumes, starches, sugars, grains, and vegetables as a means to reduce or control your weight.  A recent study was highlighted during the American College of Cardiology’s 68th Annual Scientific Session that seems to point to an increased risk for a heart rhythm disorder in those that live a low carbohydrate lifestyle[1].   The rhythm, atrial fibrillation, is the most common heart rhythm disorder found in the United States and it predisposes people to stroke and heart failure.

The study used the date from the health records of nearly 14,000 people over two decades to assess the relationship between carbohydrate intake and Atrial Fibrillation.  Researchers looked at low, medium, and higher carbohydrate intake as compared to the risk of  Atrial Fibrillation.  The researchers found that low carbohydrate diets were associated with increased risk of incident Atrial Fibrillation.  In fact, the rate of Atrial Fibrillation was significantly higher in the low carbhydrate dieters than those on a moderate or high carbohydrate diet. 

The bottom line:  Low carbohydrate diets appear to increase your risk of Atrial Fibrillation.  This fact and the odds that you will never be able to maintain the low carb lifestyle are two reasons to avoid low carb diets.  I recommend you avoid diets less than 45% carbohydrates that primarily are made up of whole foods that are less processed.   


“Low-Carb Diet Tied to Common Heart Rhythm Disorder – American College of Cardiology,” American College of Cardiology, 01-May-2019. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 13-Mar-2019]
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About the Author

I am a family physician who has served in the US Army. In 2016, I found myself overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy, so I made a change to improve my health. This blog is the chronology of my path to better health and what I have learned along the way.

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