Despite a greater burden of traditional risk factors, atrial fibrillation (AF) is less common among blacks than whites for reasons that are unclear. The aim of this study was to examine race- and gender-specific influences of demographic, lifestyle, anthropometric, and medical factors on AF in a large cohort of blacks and whites. Among white and black participants in the Southern Community Cohort Study (SCCS) aged ≥65 years receiving Medicare coverage from 1999 to 2008 (n = 8,836), diagnoses of AF (International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification code 427.3) were ascertained. Multivariate logistic regression was used to compute AF odds ratios associated with participant characteristics, including histories of hypertension, diabetes, stroke, and myocardial infarction or coronary artery bypass graft surgery, ascertained at cohort entry. Over an average of 5.7 years of Medicare coverage, AF was diagnosed in 1,062 participants. AF prevalence was significantly lower among blacks (11%) than whites (15%) (p <0.0001). Odds ratios for AF increased with age and were higher among men, the tall and obese, and patients with each of the co-morbid conditions, but the AF deficit among blacks compared to whites persisted after adjustment for these factors (odds ratio 0.64, 95% confidence interval 0.55 to 0.73). The patterns of AF risk were similar for blacks and whites, although associations with hypertension, diabetes, and stroke were somewhat stronger among blacks. In conclusion, these findings confirm the lower prevalence of AF among blacks than whites and suggest that traditional risk factors for AF apply similarly to the 2 groups and thus do not appear to explain the AF paradox in blacks.
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