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AF Association
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Does anyone know if there is anybody doing anything to study possible genetics in the cause of AF? I'm interested in the possibility of a familial link but no one that I've talked to seems interested. My mum and aunt had AF, I think my grandad also had it. I have it (aggravated by congenital heart disease which causes an 'excuse' not to investigate causes) and my 25 year old son has now started showing symptoms of it too. This is far too much is a coincidence but no ons is interested. Any thoughts?

13 Replies

The Genetics of Atrial Fibrillation is well documented.


Contact one of the University hospitals that is an AF specialist centre.


If AF is in the Genetics, can anything be done before you get the symptoms? That will be interesting to know.


Yes, absolutely. Our DNA only accounts for 10% of our disease processes. The rest is lifestyle. What you eat,how you exercise and your environment, and your access to health care accounts for the rest of your health. By eating appropriately you can actually switch off genes and prevent (or reverse) heart disease, and prevent cancers. Exercise can prevent heart disease, diabetes, osteoarthritis. There is plenty of science behind this. Most people's family eating habits carry a lot more weight (pun intended) for things like hypertension, and heart disease and diabetes, than their DNA.


My mum and Aunt had AF and I think my paternal great grand father , probably more relies too! My sister has mild symptoms but brothers nothing yet!

Yes I think it's very interesting and needs research as I have children in their twenties who I hope don't inherit the pre disposition .

At least, as another post said , thank goodness we now live in an age of advancing medical science.


My brother inlaw sent me some death certificates of my family as I am now the only member left so I have just found out my grandmother mother sister brother all had AF my younger brother had motor neurone a bit of a shock I left the UK when I was 19


In order to have AF one needs a predisposition to it. This can be either genetic or acquired, for instance from alcohol misuse or over exercise. It is all about the size and shape of the left atrium and the electrical pathways therein. Of course there can be a family link just as there can with say arthritis.

What is important to understand is that the treatment of AF is very new. 25 years ago you would have probably been told that it is a benign nuisance and to get on with your life and not to be such a wuss. It is only about ten years ago that the link with stroke was noted and began to be treated hence anticoagulation and Chadsvasc scores.

As for predicting and pre treating I feel that is a dream we shall not see any day soon.

Ok there are classes of people, athletes, alcoholics and fighter pilots who have a greater incidence of AF than general population as do older people. Yes getting old is another cause. Our bodies wear out. Fact.

Nobody can predict the future of medical science but for now let us be pleased that we live in a more enlightened time than 25 years ago.



The genetic link is definitely there - one of my paternal cousins has AF, and I've seen a death certificate from the generation before that had 'atrial fibrillation' as one of two causes of death. I'm also aware that in that generation there were a few early deaths from 'heart problems'. I hope for my children's sake that the heritability decreases as the generations pass!


My mum also had AF and heart failure on her death certificate.


Hi Mandy,

Yes I have this genetic link in my family too. The maternal side all died either young, 40's or 60's or they went the other way and died in their late 80's - all of NON CARDIAC causes !

The paternal side - different ball game ! My grandfather died following a series of strokes at 80 + in 1964. (Of course he is entitled to die at 80 +). We have no idea the cause of the strokes - nobody left alive who can comment now. On balance though, this side of the family tend to live to between 90 and 102 ! There is a recent history of cardiac issues though not withstanding this longevity.

In terms of AF, I had led a fit life, only hospitalised once for a right knee cartilage removal, the rest, visits to A & E as a result of DIY mishaps :-). At 65 I was diagnosed with AF, my daughter at 32 also diagnosed with AF, her trigger seems to have been child birth, and my second cousin age 72 also diagnosed with AF. He is still alive and has been successfully ablated. Interesting link here is that my second cousins grandfather (and we don't know the cause of his death) and my grandfather were brothers.

Just a general interest comment for you.



I know that I have definitely inherited my AF from my poor old mother. As far as I remember she suffered AF at least for the 20 years after having me. She died in 1959 when I was only 20, she was 62 years old. Ironically the age I was when I was first diagnosed.

In my experience the cardiologists I have seen weren't particularly interested to know.

I wonder what treatment was available in those days for someone suffering AF.



I have just found out through a woman i am related to through my father's line of ancestry, so i'm not sure how many times removed a cousin she is to me, but her mum and 2 uncles have arrythmia issues (i have svt). Apparently one had magnesium issues and is all well since that was sorted - bet we all wish for that story.....


I was diagnosed over 25 years ago and was indeed told to just go on with my life as normal and try not to let it bother me as BobD said. I also believe that childbirth was the trigger although the symtoms were very mild and I didn't seek medical help until I was pregnant a second time and they got dramatically worse during the pregnancy. After my third child I ended up in hospital whilst they discussed how to cardiovert me!

Unfortunately my daughter, the youngest, now seems to be showing mild symptoms which I am very disappointed about.

I think I was the first in my family that I am aware of with AF, although my paternal grandmother did have other cardiac problems and a paternal cousin has also been diagnosed with it now too.


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