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Is AFib Hereditary? Exploring the Hereditary Aspects of Atrial Fibrillation

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Medically Reviewed By: Alia Hanif Khan
May 27, 2024No Comments

Updated on May 27, 2024


Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) manifests as the most prevalent form of heart arrhythmias characterized by irregular beats in the upper chamber (the atria). This leads to impaired blood flow throughout the heart. While poor lifestyle choices and underlying health issues contribute to AFib development, genetic factors are also known to play a vital part. Moreover, the major risk factors for this condition include high blood pressure and age, while for certain individuals, there may be a genetic predisposition to the condition.

According to an estimation, up to 12.1 million individuals in the United States will experience AFib by 2030. However, there are potential treatment options available for AFib that can potentially help manage the symptoms.

This article highlights the genetic causes, risk factors, symptoms, some of the potential treatment options and whether is AFib hereditary or not in detail.

Genetic Causes of AFib: Is AFib Hereditary?

Research suggests that individuals have a higher likelihood of developing AFib if one of their first-degree relatives, such as parents, siblings, or children have the condition. It also shows that genetic links may also play a crucial role, particularly in individuals experiencing early-onset AFib. Almost 138 genetic variants have been identified in the development of AFib, including genes like KCNQ1, KCNE1, KCNA5, SCN5A, SCN1B, SCN2B, SCN3B, SCN4B, RYR2, GJA5, NUP155, and NKX2-5.

These genes are known to regulate proteins found on cell membranes as ion channels. Hence, these proteins help in delivering substances like sodium or potassium to the heart, which directly influences the heart rate and rhythm. Consequently, if these genes in any situation undergo alterations, the heart may experience irregular rates or beats. However, there are certain genes that can independently cause AFib. Typically, these gene alterations affect ion channels in the heart or the heart’s structure, impacting its rhythm and contractions. Despite identifying numerous genetic loci potentially involved in this condition, much remains unclear, necessitating further research into genetic factor’s precise role.

Is AFib hereditary? In many cases, yes as it is usually inherited in an autosomal dominated pattern, where the presence of an affected gene from just one parent is sufficient to trigger the condition.

Is AFib Hereditary – Know The Symptoms

The symptoms of hereditary AFib can vary, and individuals with this condition may or may not experience them. However, it is essential to be mindful of the body’s signal, especially if there is a family history of AFib.

The symptoms can include:

  • Feeling lightheaded
  • Fluttering or pounding heartbeat (palpitations)
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Experiencing severe fatigue
  • Chest pain (angina)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue

If someone experiences any of these symptoms, it is advisable to consult a specialized healthcare professional. However, many cardiac problems exhibit similar warning signs. Therefore, if someone suspects a heart attack, it’s crucial to seek immediate medical assistance.

Learn more about AFib, here.

Is AFib Hereditary – Risk Factors

While family history of AFib a significant factor, is AFib hereditary the only cause?

No, individuals with one or more of the following risk factors are at increased risk of the condition.

  • Hypertension
  • Advanced age
  • Other heart conditions
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Sleep apnea
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Smoking

These risk factors elevate the likelihood of developing AFib. If left undiagnosed, AFib can lead to severe complications, some of which can be extremely life-threatening. The most critical complication is stroke, with AFib heightening the risk by five times.

Is AFib Hereditary – Diagnostic Procedures

Detecting hereditary AFib early on can help in preventing complications. The doctor will conduct a physical or review medical history. Moreover, AFib diagnosis also involves an electrocardiogram (EKG) or a Holter monitor.

Additional tests include:

  • Stress test
  • Blood tests
  • Chest X-ray
  • Echocardiogram
  • MRI

Is AFib Hereditary – Treatment Options

As recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the treatment options focus on preventing blood clots, regulating heart rate, and restoring normal heart rhythm. These treatments may include:


Certain drugs that can help manage the symptoms of hereditary AFib include:

  • Calcium channel blockers
  • Beta-Blockers
  • Sodium channel blockers
  • Digoxin
  • Antiplatelets

Lifestyle Changes:

Research suggests the following lifestyle modifications:

  • Regular physical activity
  • Avoiding alcohol
  • Quitting smoking
  • Dietary changes
  • Maintaining weight

Surgical Procedures:

A healthcare professional may consider procedures such as:

  • Pacemaker
  • Catheter ablation
  • Plugging off the left atrial appendage
  • Surgical ablation
  • Electrical cardioversion

Additionally, a doctor may address underlying health conditions such as hyperthyroidism and sleep which may increase the risk of AFib. Moreover, various investigative treatment options for AFib may help alleviate symptoms and promote better heart health.

Tips to Reduce the Risk – Is AFib Hereditary

According to American Heart Association (AHA), these following tips can be made a part of routine to reduce the risk of hereditary AFib.

  • Implementing rhythm control strategies to restore typical heart rhythm
  • Proactively preventing the formation of blood clots
  • Addressing risk factors associated with stroke
  • Employing rate control measures to decrease elevated heart rates
  • Taking measures to prevent heart failure


The question of is AFib hereditary has been answered with the help of numerous studies. Moreover, genetic components influence an individual’s susceptibility to atrial fibrillation, a condition characterized by irregular heartbeats. Genes inherited from biological parents may affect the heart’s structure or electrical activity, leading to rhythm disturbances. However, early identification means earlier treatment and preventing further complications associated with the condition.

Hoor Abdul Ghani

Author Hoor Abdul Ghani

Hoor skillfully combines her Biomedical Engineering background with a passion for research, making a notable impact in healthcare. Her marketing flair adds a fresh and unique perspective to the field. With diverse skills and experiences, Hoor is actively contributing to clinical research.

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