Researchers Discovered 150 Genes Associated with Atrial Fibrillation

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Researchers discovered 150 genes that are associated with atrial fibrillation, according to a study published on August 2, 2018.

This study was conducted by the researchers from the University of Michigan. They discovered the genetic risk factors for atrial fibrillation, which is an irregular, often rapid heart rate that is affecting millions of people in the U.S. and over 30 million people worldwide. The risk of blood clots, stroke, heart failure, and death is increased by atrial fibrillation.

By conducting a large genome-wide association study (GWAS), which comprised data from six smaller studies, 151 candidate genes for atrial fibrillation were identified by the researchers. Among those genes, few are beneficial for fetal development of the heart, which implies that genetic variation predisposes the heart to atrial fibrillation during fetal development, or, that the genetic variation could reactivate genes in the adult heart that normally only function during fetal development.

The complications such as stroke and heart failure can be prevented on earlier detection of atrial fibrillation. The treatment options currently available for atrial fibrillation are limited and have serious side effects. The results of this study could probably improve both early detection and treatment of atrial fibrillation. Among the 151 genes, 32 are expected to interact with existing drugs that are not necessarily developed for the treatment of atrial fibrillation.

Data from multiple biobanks worldwide were used by the researchers, including UM’s Michigan Genomics Initiative (MGI), UK Biobank, Norway’s HUNT study, DiscovEHR, Iceland’s deCODE Genetics, and AFGen Consortium. Cristen Willer, study authors said, “As scientists, we need to continue to focus on the goal — helping patients with cardiovascular disease — and collaborate toward that goal. That’s exactly what happened here, with the additional benefit of helping train the next generation of cardiovascular geneticists.”

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