Atrial Fibrillation Research and Medical Inequalities

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Atrial Fibrillation
Courtesy of Ben Baligad (Flickr CC0)

New research suggests that indicators such as sleep-related hypoxemia (low blood oxygen levels) serve as a more efficient sign of atrial fibrillation. Also known as AFib or AF consist of irregular heartbeat that can include accelerated heartbeat or even decelerated. An uncoordinated response by the heart in the upper atriums does not flow well to the lower ventricles.

The recent study findings show that instances of serious hypoxemia indicate an associated increased risk of atrial fibrillation. In a comment to Medscape Medical News, Gregory M. Marcus, MD at the University of California of San Francisco who was not involved in the said study said, “we need to be cautious before inferring causal relationships.” we need to caution that the study was only an observational study. Other evidence also shows that in cases like insomnia, sleep disruption even separate from obstructive sleep apnea is the main prediction of the advancement of atrial fibrillation.

Additionally, other research highlights the social inequalities in the field of AF and its relationships with its patients. Data released by the University of Manchester, In England ethnic minorities are not receiving vital blood thinners needed in lowering their risk of having a stroke. Black along with additional ethnic minorities, in comparison with patients who are white, according to research were less likely found to receive anticoagulation from 22% to 24%. Taking into account risk factors of age, sex, comorbidities, residence deprivation, and bleeding risk factors.

Atrial Fibrillation
Courtesy of Ed Wohlfahrt (Flickr CC0)

The study was released on June 7, 2022, by PLOS Medicine today highlights that individuals from neighborhoods that are considered deprived have been less likely to receive that specific type of treatment. Patients from these living areas were 15% unlikely to obtain life-saving oral anticoagulation when in comparison with people who are from areas considered less deprived along with the disparities in ethnicity. In comparison, Black people who are patients in quintile 5 of deprivation were only prescribed aspirin 16% of the time, with oral anticoagulants at 62%. Deprivation in quintile 1 is at 12% and 72% in comparison who are white.

Alyaa Ajabnoor, lead author and Ph.D. researcher at the University of Manchester said, “Atrial fibrillation is associated with increased risk of stroke” adding that 1% of healthcare funding in the United Kingdom goes into comorbidities that go into cardiovascular health and ultimately mortality. She also stated, “People with low socioeconomic status and black or other non-white ethnicities were associated with the prescription of aspirin-only or no-treatment at all compared to white patients or those with higher socioeconomic status.” Professor Evan Kontopantelis who co-authored at The University of Manchester emphasized to improve the outcomes of atrial fibrillation “these inequalities need to be addressed”  fair treatment and prescriptions anticoagulant to “prevent strokes and reduce mortality.”

Written by Skye Leon
Edited by Sheena Robertson

Medscape: A Better Predictor of Atrial Fibrillation?; by Megan Brooks
CDC: Atrial Fibrillation
Medical Press: Study reveals deep inequalities of care for atrial fibrillation patient; by Mike Addelman, University of Manchester

Top and Featured Image Courtesy of Ben Baligad‘s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of Ed Wohlfahrt‘s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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