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Atrial Fibrillation, Genetic Testing

Atrial fibrillation is a common heart rhythm disorder characterized by an irregular and rapid rhythm of the atria of the heart. This can lead to an increased risk of stroke and heart failure. Treatment includes medications to control heart rhythm, anticoagulants to prevent blood clots, and, in some cases, procedures to restore normal heart rhythm. The assessment of the Polygenic Risk Score for atrial fibrillation is based on the examination of 134 gene polymorphisms.

Genetic testing for atrial fibrillation is included along with 14 other diseases in the Genetic Screening for Cardiovascular and Respiratory Diseases, Polygenic Risk Score.

Causes and non-genetic risk factors

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

  • Advanced age. The older the person, the higher the risk.
  • High blood pressure, primarily if it is not controlled.
  • 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 diseases.
  • Excessive alcohol consumption, especially binge drinking, and the use of stimulants, including certain medications, amphetamine, caffeine, or tobacco.
  • The population with European ancestry presents an increased risk of atrial fibrillation.

The symptomatology associated with atrial fibrillation is widely variable. Some patients have no manifestations, while others may present with any of the following:

  • The sensation of rapid heartbeat, fluttering, or pounding palpitations.
  • Chest pain, pressure, or discomfort.
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness.
  • Fatigue, excessive tiredness, or weakness.
  • Shortness of breath, decreased ability to exercise.

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 salt and fat intake.
  • Exercise regularly every day and increase physical activity.
  • Stop smoking, limit alcohol consumption, and restrict caffeine intake from tea, coffee, energy drinks, or cola.
  • Keep blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and blood sugar levels under control.
  • Achieve or maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight increases the risk of heart disease.
Additional information
Results Time4 - 5 Weeks
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