HealthDay News — Compared with whites, blacks are at increased risk of developing an ischemic stroke either before or after diagnosis of atrial fibrillation (AF), according to a study published in Heart Rhythm.

Parin J. Patel, MD, from St. Vincent Medical Group in Indianapolis, and colleagues assessed racial differences in strokes that occurred before and after AF diagnosis in 3507 participants in the Penn Atrial Fibrillation Free study.

The researchers found that 538 patients had ischemic strokes and 54 had hemorrhagic strokes. A total of 47% of ischemic strokes occurred within a 6-month period before the diagnosis of AF, with the majority of these occurring either on the day of (n=158) or within a 7-day period before (n=30) the diagnosis of incident AF.

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The remaining 53% of ischemic strokes occurred a median of 3.6 years after AF diagnosis. Blacks had an independently higher risk for ischemic stroke either before (adjusted odds ratio, 1.37) or after (adjusted hazard ratio, 1.67) AF diagnosis compared with whites.

“Future public health interventions should continue to highlight the importance of AF screening and anticoagulation therapies and evaluate whether such interventions can reduce the excess burden of ischemic strokes and subsequent racial differences,” the authors wrote.

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Patel PJ, Katz R, Borovskiy Y, et al. Race and stroke in an atrial fibrillation inception cohort: findings from the Penn Atrial Fibrillation Free study [published online February 19, 2018]. Heart Rhythm. doi:10.1016/j.hrthm.2017.11.025