Systemic Inflammation May Help Explain AF Disparities by Race
Written by Editor   
Thursday, August 27, 2015 08:27 AM

White race is associated with a substantially higher risk of incident atrial fibrillation (AF) compared with blacks, and systemic inflammation contributes to a significant proportion of that heightened risk.  "Even though AF is the most common arrhythmia, we still don't really understand why people get it. We know what certain risk factors are, but the root cause of it remains unknown … we don't understand the underlying mechanisms." 

For the current analysis, 2768 white and black participants between 70 and 79 years of age were recruited from a random sample of Medicare beneficiaries.  At the baseline study visit, investigators measured nine inflammatory markers, all participants underwent electrocardiography, and participants had yearly clinic visits.

White participants had significantly higher levels of a number of inflammatory cytokines compared with blacks.

Their initial hypothesis was that there would be more inflammation in whites and that the inflammation would be caused by having more visceral fat, of which whites typically have more than blacks. "But we were surprised to find that visceral fat did not explain the difference we observed in inflammation."

"I am becoming more and more convinced that it's going to be important to identify certain mechanistic subtypes of AF and not to think about AF as all one disease."