Atrial fibrillation

It consists of an abnormal heart rhythm characterized by uncoordinated episodes of atrial electrical activity (fibrillation), which causes a rapid and irregular heartbeat. It is the most common type of cardiac arrhythmia with a prevalence of 0.5% in the population. If untreated, it can cause dizziness, chest pain, or fainting, as well as increase the risk of stroke and sudden death.

There is no specific cause described for atrial fibrillation. In most cases, it is associated with structural heart abnormalities such as congenital heart defects, valvular diseases, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies, as well as surgical or heart attack history. However, sometimes it is not associated with any underlying heart pathology. In this regard, the following factors, in addition to possible genetic contribution, may be related to an increased risk of developing atrial fibrillation:

  • Advanced age. The older the person, the greater the risk.
  • High blood pressure, especially if uncontrolled.
  • Obesity.
  • Hyperthyroidism and other chronic conditions such as diabetes, metabolic syndrome, chronic kidney disease, lung disease, or sleep apnea.
  • Psychological or physical stress induced by surgery, pneumonia, viral infections, or other illnesses.
  • Excessive alcohol consumption, especially in binge drinking, and the use of stimulants, including certain medications, amphetamine, caffeine, or tobacco.
  • Population with European ancestry presents an increased risk of atrial fibrillation.

Symptoms

The symptomatology associated with atrial fibrillation is highly variable. Some patients do not present any symptoms while others may experience some of the following:

  • Sensation of rapid heartbeats, fluttering, or strong palpitations.
  • Pain, pressure, or discomfort in the chest.
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness.
  • Fatigue, excessive tiredness, or weakness.
  • Shortness of breath, reduced ability to exercise.

Prevention

Following a heart-healthy lifestyle can help prevent or treat conditions such as high blood pressure and heart disease. These changes generally include:

  • Following a heart-healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Limiting the intake of salt and fats.
  • Exercising regularly every day and increasing physical activity.
  • Quitting smoking, limiting alcohol consumption, and restricting caffeine intake from products like tea, coffee, energy drinks, or cola sodas.
  • Keeping blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and blood sugar levels under control.
  • Achieving or maintaining a healthy weight. Being overweight increases the risk of heart disease.

Number of observed variants

13.5 million variants

Number of risk loci

134 loci

Genes analyzed

ABHD17C AKAP6 AOPEP ARHGAP10 ARNT2 ASAH1 BEND5 C1orf185 CAMK2D CAND2 CASQ2 CASZ1 CAV1 CDK6 CDKN1A CEP68 CFL2 CGA CLIC6 CPEB4 CREB5 CUL4A CYTH1 DBX1 DEK DGKB DPF3 EFNA5 EPHA3 ERBB4 ESR2 FAM13B FBRSL1 FBXO32 FGF5 FRMD4B GATA4 GCOM1 GJA1 GJA5 GMCL1 GMPR GNB4 GTF2I GYPC HAND2 HCN4 HERC1 HIP1R HSF2 HSPG2 IGF1R IL6R IRF2BPL JMJD1C KCND3 KCNH2 KCNJ5 KCNN2 KCNN3 KIF3C KLHL38 LHX3 LRIG1 LRMDA LRRC10 MSL2 MYH6 MYO18B MYOCD MYZAP NACA NEURL1 NKX2-5 NPM3 NR3C1 NTMT2 NUCKS1 OPN1SW PHLDA1 PHLDB2 PITX2 PKP2 PLEKHA3 PPFIA4 PRRX1 PTK2 RBM20 REEP1 RPL3L SAMD8 SCMH1 SCN10A SCN5A SGCG SH3PXD2A SLC27A6 SLC35F1 SLC9B1 SLIT3 SMAD7 SORL1 SOX5 SPATS2L SSPN SYNE2 SYNPO2L TAB2 TBX5 THRB TNFSF12-TNFSF13 TUBA8 USP34 WIPF1 WNT3 XPO7 XXYLT1 YWHAE ZEB2 ZFHX3 ZPBP2

Bibliography

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