Does atrial fibrillation run in families?

Answer From Rekha Mankad, M.D.

It can. Atrial fibrillation that is inherited is called familial atrial fibrillation. It has been associated with changes in certain genes in a small number of cases. Although the exact incidence of familial atrial fibrillation is unknown, recent studies suggest that up to 30 percent of people with atrial fibrillation may have a relative with the condition.

Atrial fibrillation, a common heart rhythm disorder, is caused by abnormalities or changes to your heart's structure. Your risk of developing atrial fibrillation increases as you age. Risk also increases if you are male, if you have heart disease, high blood pressure (hypertension) or diabetes, and if you are obese.

Research into the genetic factors associated with atrial fibrillation continues with the hope that genetic testing might someday be possible. Such testing could help doctors more accurately determine a person's risk of atrial fibrillation and develop plans to prevent or manage the condition.

If you're concerned that you are at risk because a relative has atrial fibrillation, talk with your doctor. He or she can explain more about atrial fibrillation and check if you have other risk factors, such as high blood pressure, that can be treated.


Rekha Mankad, M.D.

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March 30, 2021 See more Expert Answers