Whites are more likely to develop atrial fibrillation (Afib) after heart surgery than non-white patients, reported investigators who remained baffled by the finding. More than a third of white patients had Afib after coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) or valve surgery, compared with 22% of blacks and 29% of other non-Caucasians. A propensity-matched analysis yielded an Afib odds ratio of 1.74 for white patients compared with black patients. Aside from an increased need for pacing due to bradycardia, other post-CABG complications occurred in a similar proportion of patients, irrespective of race, according to an article published online in Circulation: Arrhythmia and Electrophysiology.
"The cause for racial differences of arrhythmic risk is unknown, but a genetic predisposition is plausible," Florian Rader, MD, of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, and coauthors wrote in conclusion.
"Our results have implications for risk stratification and mechanistic understanding of postoperative Afib."
Afib occurs in as many as half of all patients after cardiac surgery and is associated with increased morbidity and mortality. Moreover, Afib drives up the cost associated with cardiac surgery.