Pesticides’ role in heart rhythm disorders?

Pesticides such as glyphosate could have a role in heart rhythm disorders (i.e. atrial fibrillation). According to scholars, there are such clear indications of this that the Amsterdam professor Bianca Brundel is going to investigate it more closely. The research will take place in Westerveld, a municipality in the north of the Netherlands.

Concerned citizens in Westerveld started an initiative called “Meten=Weten”, translated in English as Measuring=Knowing. Due to the increasing production of flowers (especially lilies), pesticides use has gone up enormously in the region. This has made citizens living next to these crops increasingly worried. With this initiative, they ask to know the exact amount of pesticides being used in crops and their effects.

Together with Professor Bianca Brundel, a molecular and cellular biologist from Amsterdam UMC, the role of pesticides on heart rhythm disorders will be studied. 

Atrial fibrillation is the most common cardiac arrhythmia in western countries; 345,000 Dutch people suffer from it and 45,000 new diagnoses are made each year. The cells in the atrium of the heart contract irregularly and too quickly, with palpitations, a feeling of agitation, dizziness and fainting as possible consequences. Atrial fibrillation also increases the risk of stroke and heart failure.

"We are on to a link," says molecular and cellular biologist Brundel, who is a specialist in cardiac rhythm disorders at Amsterdam UMC. "From initial studies, we conclude that exposure to pesticides increases the risk of atrial fibrillation. There are no firm conclusions yet and we are currently working on a scientific publication. In this study, in addition to experimental research in cultured atrial heart cells and fruit flies, I want to use citizen science to see if atrial fibrillation actually occurs more often in people who work with pesticides, such as horticulturists, florists and farmers, or live near fields where they are used."

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Pesticide Action Network Europe (PAN Europe) gratefully acknowledges the financial support from the European Union, European Commission, DG Environment, LIFE programme. Sole responsibility for this publication lies with the authors and the funders are not responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained herein.