Family History of AFib Linked With Increased Cardiovascular Event Risk

Individuals with a family history of atrial fibrillation tend to have increased risk for cardiovascular events and major adverse cardiac events (MACE), according to a new study.

Published in Circulation Arrhythmia and Electrophysiology, the researchers investigating the extent to which familial history of AFib plays a roll in these events included 1,722 individuals in the cohort with non-valvular AFib. They defined a family history of AFib as “the presence of AFib in a first-degree relative: mother, father, sibling, or children.” The primary outcome of interest for the study was composite cardiovascular events (fatal/nonfatal ischemic stroke and myocardial infarction) and cardiovascular death. The researchers also examined familial history of AFib and its association with MACE. The mean age of the study participants was 74.6 years (44% women). Median follow-up was 23.7 months.

According to the study results, a family history of AFib was detected in 368 (21.4%) of patients in the study. Of those, 3.5% had two or more relatives affected by AFib, and the age of AFib decreased progressively in those without a history of AFib relative to those with single or multiple relatives affected (P<0.001). There were 145 cardiovascular events, 98 MACE, and 57 cardiovascular deaths during study follow-up. After adjustment, a family history of AFib was associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular events (HR-1.524; 95% CI, 1.021 to 2.274; P=0.039), MACE (HR=1.1917; 95% CI, 1.207 to 3.045; P=0.006) and also cardiovascular mortality (HR=2.008; 95% CI, 1.047 to 3.851; P=0.036). The association was modified, after subgroup analysis, by age, sex, and prior ischemic heart disease.

“In a cohort of elderly patients with a high atherosclerotic burden, family history of AFib is evident in >20% of patients and was associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular events and mortality,” the authors wrote.