African Americans Experience Radically Lower Incidence of Postoperative Atrial Fibrillation Despite Having High Risk Factors

DENVER, dateline 2010 — DENVER, May 13, 2010 – African Americans have a significantly lower incidence of postoperative atrial fibrillation (AF) compared to Caucasians despite a higher prevalence of risk factors for this specific type of arrhythmia. According to a new study presented today at Heart Rhythm 2010, the Heart Rhythm Society’s 31st Annual Scientific Sessions, Caucasians are 60 percent more likely than African Americans to develop AF following heart surgery.

In the United States, more than 2 million people are living with AF, making it one of the most common heart rhythm disorders. Risk factors currently known to be associated with AF include gender, age, hypertension, diabetes and cardiovascular disease; however, race has not been considered a risk factor, but recent studies have shown a correlation.

The study examined adult patients, without prior AF, who underwent Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG) surgery at Henry Ford Health System between 2004 and 2008. A total of 1,001 patients were identified for the study – 731 Caucasians and 270 African Americans. Prior to surgery, patients were measured for high risk factors including age, congestive heart failure, hypertension and diabetes.

Study results show African American patients have a higher prevalence of risk factors associated with AF compared to Caucasian patients, including congestive heart failure, hypertension and diabetes. However, despite the significantly higher presence of risk factors in African Americans, only 18 percent of the African American patients developed postoperative CABG AF compared to 29 percent of Caucasian patients. Further studies are needed to determine the underlying factors that protect African Americans from developing postoperative AF.

“Based on our study results, it seems viable for clinicians to consider race as an important factor in the likelihood of patients developing postoperative AF,” stated Marc K. Lahiri, MD, Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, Mich. “Since it appears that Caucasians are at an increased risk of developing postoperative AF, clinicians may want to use this information in deciding when to take measures to prevent its occurrence, such as using antiarrhythmic medications at the time of surgery.”

Session details:
“Incidence of Postoperative Atrial Fibrillation is Markedly Reduced in African Americans compared to Whites” May 13, 2010, 1:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m., Wells Fargo Theatre 3

About Heart Rhythm 2010
Heart Rhythm 2010 takes place May 12-15 at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver. The meeting is the most comprehensive educational event on heart rhythm disorders, offering approximately 250 educational opportunities in multiple formats. The world’s most renowned scientists and physicians will present a wide range of heart rhythm topics including cardiac resynchronization therapy, catheter ablation, cardiac pacing and heart failure as well as the latest technology, including state-of-the-art pacemakers and defibrillators.

Contact: Kennesha Baldwin, (202) 590-6757
Heart Rhythm Society
(202) 464-3476 (DC office)
[email protected]
[email protected]

Cindy Rahman: (703) 283-8499
Heart Rhythm 2010 Press Room: (303) 228-8274 (number effective May 11- 15, 2010)