Blood test can determine patients at high risk of atrial fibrillation

Swedish researchers recommend a blood test for individuals with a higher genetic risk of developing atrial fibrillation. Persons with one of 12 specific genetic mutations are not only at higher risk for atrial fibrillation, but also for stroke. The findings have been published in “Stroke”.

The researchers at Lund University analysed data of 27,400 participants in a population study. Generally, one in five people have a genetic weakness that means they are twice as likely to develop atrial fibrillation. This genetic risk is therefore one of the strongest indicators for potential atrial fibrillation and generally also increases the risk of stroke. The researchers found that if participants had the risk genes, their risk of stroke was increased by a further 70-80 per cent.

“In patients who are suspected of having temporary but recurrent episodes of atrial fibrillation, or in people with high blood pressure, it can be important for doctors to look at their genetic predisposition using a blood test,” said study author Olle Melander. The test makes it easier to start preventative therapy, and to correctly assess whether anticoagulant medication is necessary to prevent stroke, he added.

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