Are Eggs Good or Bad for Afib & Your Heart?

Two sunny side up fried eggs on plate with spices seasoning

Eggs. They are a staple of the American breakfast diet. They’re also highly nutritious. But could they have a beneficial effect on heart disease and stroke risk? Research published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition shed some light on this question. Let’s get right to it. The study showed that eating an egg a day did not change the risk for coronary heart disease. However, it was associated with a 12% reduction in ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke risk.1 Does this mean you should run out and grab a dozen eggs, ensuring you eat one daily? Let’s dive in a little deeper.

Causation Versus Association

This research relied on other studies published between 1982 and 2014. The research covered about 300,000 people in each of the coronary artery disease and stroke buckets. With these numbers, the research has plenty of participation basis. However, no matter how well-built the study is, we must understand that causation is complex. In other words, was it the egg itself that caused a reduction in stroke risk? Or is it something to do with the lifestyles people who eat an egg a day follow that lowers their stroke risk?

There is no definitive answer to this question, but we can make a couple of suppositions.

If the overall lifestyle were causing this reduction in stroke risk, then surely the same would be true for coronary heart disease. After all, healthy habits equal a healthy heart. This is a relatively good argument to show that the egg and its components may directly affect stroke risk. However, this cannot be considered a definitive link and is just an educated guess.

On the other hand, while many of these studies adjusted for factors that change these outcomes, it is almost impossible to factor in every possible lifestyle change. Further, genetic and environmental components can change the outcome. Lastly, much of the data was based on self-reported information, which may be inaccurate.

Why Does This Matter for Afib?

Studies that measure stroke and coronary heart disease risk are very important for Atrial Fibrillation (Afib) because of their interlinked relationships. On the one hand, coronary heart disease is a significant risk factor for Afib. As the coronary arteries, those that feed the heart with oxygen-rich blood, are occluded by plaque buildup known as atherosclerosis, it forces the heart to pump harder, which can cause Afib. In the long term, patients may experience congestive heart failure.

On the other hand, Afib is a significant risk factor and cause of a substantial proportion of ischemic strokes. Controlling Afib is an important factor in reducing the occurrence of stroke.

What About the Cholesterol in Eggs?

Yes, eggs contain a significant amount of cholesterol—approximately 200 milligrams. However, dietary cholesterol does not significantly affect blood cholesterol. Patients who avoid dietary cholesterol for fear of higher serum levels miss out on incredibly nutritious foods like eggs and shellfish.

So, should you be eating more eggs? Yes and no. If you have been avoiding eggs for fear of cholesterol, don’t. They can be an essential part of a healthy and nutritious diet. However, if you are only eating eggs for the sake of reducing stroke risk or improving coronary heart disease, there is not enough evidence to support continuing this.

Most importantly, if you are experiencing Afib, you must visit a qualified electrophysiologist like Dr. Tordini to understand your treatment options and learn more about your diagnosis.

1Alexander DD, Miller PE, Vargas AJ, Weed DL, Cohen SS. Meta-analysis of Egg Consumption and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease and Stroke. J Am Coll Nutr. 2016 Nov-Dec;35(8):704-716. doi: 10.1080/07315724.2016.1152928. Epub 2016 Oct 6. PMID: 27710205.

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