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Researchers identify stroke predictors in black patients
Date:4/28/2009

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. Predictors of atrial fibrillation (AF or afib) might offer physicians a better way to prevent stroke in blacks, according to a new study done by researchers at Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

AF is an irregular and often rapid heart rate that commonly causes poor blood flow to the body, as well as symptoms of heart palpitations, shortness of breath and weakness. Despite low reported prevalence of AF one of the major risk factors for stroke in black patients, they suffer strokes five times more often than white patients and die from them two times more often.

That paradox might result from limitations in the methods (electrocardiograms (ECG) or self-report) used to detect AF, said Elsayed Z. Soliman, M.D., M.Sc. M.S., associate director of the Epidemiological Cardiology Research Center (EPICARE) at the School of Medicine and lead author of the study.

"The limitations stem from the fact that AF is intermittent in at least 30 percent of patients, and most patients are not aware if they have AF or not," Soliman said. "Trying to detect AF using an ECG, or simply counting on patients to know if they have it, leads to under-diagnosis of the condition most of the time. Our research suggests that being proactive in predicting it may be a better approach."

The study appears in the current issue of Stroke, the peer-reviewed journal of the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association.

An electrocardiogram is a diagnostic tool that measures and records the electrical activity of the heart. Interpretation of an ECG report allows diagnosis of a wide range of heart conditions from minor to life threatening.

Doctors use ECGs to diagnose AF, and therefore assess the risk of stroke in different patients. However, ECG reports of AF have not been as useful for identifying black patients at high risk. While black patients suffer more ischemic strokes than white patients,
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Contact: Jessica Guenzel
jguenzel@wfubmc.edu
336-716-3487
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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