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Racial Disparity in Genetic Predisposition to Early-Onset Atrial Fibrillation

BLACK and Latino people are more genetically pre-disposed to early-onset atrial fibrillation (AFib) than white people, according to researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago, Illinois, USA. The discovery could help explain why these two minority ethnic groups are more likely to experience higher rates of complications or die from AFib even though they have a lower risk of developing the condition than white people.

Early Identification

The study suggests that individuals and families, particularly from black and Latino communities, who have first-degree relatives diagnosed with AFib before the age of 60 years, should be monitored more closely including through genetic testing.

“Many people with AFib do not know they have the condition until they present to the emergency room with a stroke,” commented Prof Dawood Darbar, UIC. “Identifying people at risk for AFib and preventing these complications is the most effective way to improve AFib outcomes in black and Latino communities.”

To make the findings, an analysis was made of 664 patients who made up the UIC’s AFib registry at the time of the study. Of these, 40% were white, 39% black, and 21% Latino; this research therefore differed from most previous studies on family history and AFib which focussed on white populations.

Racial Differences

Of all those diagnosed with early-onset AFib, 49% had a family history of AFib; this was significantly higher than in the 22% of patients diagnosed with the condition in later life (over the age of 60 years). The results were then broken down into the respective racial groups. While white people with early-onset AFib were 2.5-times more likely to have a relative with the condition, black people were around 2.7-times more likely, and Latinos almost 10-times more likely.

“I was surprised to see that even though blacks and Latinos have a lower risk of developing AFib than whites, they had similar or higher risk if there was a family history of the condition,” added Prof Darbar. “This telling information for practicing healthcare providers who, while working with patients, need to determine risk and develop preventive strategies; not just for patients, but for their families as well.”

The team stated that more AFib studies are now required to study this issue further.

 

James Coker, Reporter

For the source and further information about the study, click here.