NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — A new study out of Yale found that women are more likely to have a poorer quality of life than men by the time they are referred to for treatment for atrial fibrillation.

“What our data suggests is that women are being referred for this procedure when they’re older, and when they have more symptoms, and when their quality of life has gotten lower than for men,” James Freeman, an associate professor of medicine at Yale University, said. “And so, that suggests to us that we may have an opportunity here to get a women a little earlier in the course of the disease, earlier in their lives, and make an impact a little bit earlier for women.”

About 15% to 20% of Americans will be diagnosed with AFib. The condition is described as a pattern in the upper chambers of the heart that can lead to heart palpitations and shortness of breath. It can also increase the chances of experiencing a stroke.

The study, led by Freeman, found that not only do women experience a poorer quality of life than men by the time they are referred to an ablation procedure, but they also are more likely to have an adverse outcome afterward.

To lower the risk of developing Afib, Freeman suggests keeping weight down, limiting alcohol intake and exercising for between 30 and 60 minutes a day five to seven days a week.