American Indians at Higher Risk of Irregular Heartbeat due to Unknown Cause

New research brings into attention the unexpected higher incidence of irregular heartbeat or atrial fibrillation(AFib) amongst American Indians in contrast with other racial and ethnic groups. 

The full-research appeared in Circulation, the American Heart Association’s premier cardiovascular research journal.

In the United States, there are 2,7 million people living with AFib, a disorder that may bring along other cardiovascular diseases and even stroke. The condition can be asymptomatic for some but commonly is spotted due to a fluttering heartbeat. 

Data was collected from 300,000 reports of AFib between 1, 2005, and December 31, 2011, in California. It has been noted an increased incidence of 7,5 times/thousand patients per year amongst American Indians. 

Other ethnic groups recorded a rate of 6.9 times per year per thousand patients. The scientist investigated further into other influential factors, like disease history, age, income, sex, etc. 

The Trial Spotted New Cases of AFib

The conclusion was based on records belonging to 6 million California residents aged 18 years or older in the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project. It listed statewide information regarding hospital care and patients’ self-reported ethnicity and race, as well as tried to trace new cases of AFib.

The follow-up lasted almost four years and exempted over 400,000 patients because they had pre-existing AFib. The study covered 300,000 new cases identified in an emergency department. 

The principal investigator Gregory M. Marcus, M.D., M.A.S., endowed professor of atrial fibrillation research at University of California, San Francisco stated: 

Understanding the mechanisms and factors by which American Indians experience this higher risk may help investigators better understand the fundamental causes of atrial fibrillation that prove useful to everyone at risk for AFib, regardless of their race or ethnicity.

Some conditions may weaken the heart, leading to the onset of atrial fibrillation, but many times the origin is not evident. 

The trial contained some limiting aspect. It couldn’t provide an explanation for the concerning number of American Indians that receive yearly this diagnosis. 

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