Characteristics of Atrial Fibrillation Patients with a Family History of Atrial Fibrillation

J Atr Fibrillation. 2019 Jun 30;12(1):2198. doi: 10.4022/jafib.2198. eCollection 2019 Jun.


Background: Family history has been shown to be associated with increased risk of atrial fibrillation (AF). However, the specific AF characteristics that travel with a family history have not yet been elucidated. The purpose of this study was to determine whether a family history of AF is associated with specific patient characteristics in a worldwide, remote cohort.

Methods: From the Health eHeart Study, an internet-based prospective cohort, we performed a cross-sectional analysis of AF participants who reported their family history and completed questionnaires regarding their medical conditions and AF symptoms. We assessed demographics, cardiovascular comorbidities, and AF symptom characteristics in AF participants with and without a family history of AF.

Results: In multivariable analysis of 5,884 participants with AF (mean age 59.9 ± 14.5, 59% male, 92% white), female sex (odds ratio [OR]=1.35, 95% CI, 1.17-1.54, p<0.0001) and birth in the U.S. (OR=2.54, 95% CI, 2.12-3.05, p<0.0001) were independently associated with having a family history of AF. Having a family history of AF was also more commonly associated with symptoms of shortness of breath (OR=1.40, 95% CI, 1.07-1.82, p=0.014), chest pain, pressure, or discomfort (OR=1.95, 95% CI, 1.22-3.13, p=0.0052), and feeling generally "off" about oneself (OR=1.84, 95% CI, 1.27-2.67, p=0.0013).

Conclusions: Patients with a family history of AF are more likely to be female, be US-born, and experience symptoms of AF, suggesting underlying mechanistic differences between those with and without family history of AF.

Keywords: Atrial fibrillation; Family history; Genetics, Heritability; Phenotype.