Study: irregular heartbeat more common among American Indians

A new study published by the American Heart Association says irregular heartbeat or atrial fibrillation occurred more often among American Indians than other racial and ethnic groups.

Afib, which affects some 2.7 million people in the United States, is a disorder that can increase risk for stroke and other cardiovascular diseases. The most common symptom is a fluttering heartbeat, but some people may have no symptoms at all, according to the report published in the AHA cardiovascular research journal Circulation.

The report is based on the review of 300,000 new cases of Afib between Jan. 1, 2005 and Dec. 31, 2011 in California. Researchers found that among American Indians, new Afib cases occurred on average 7.5 times annually per thousand patients. For other racial and ethnic groups, new Afib cases happened on average 6.9 times per thousand patients.

The higher frequency of Afib in American Indians persisted after controlling for other factors, including age, sex, income and heat and other diseases, the report said.

Study results were also reported on Oct. 21 at EurekAlert, the online publication of the America Association for the Advancement of Science.