Ethnic differences in need for heart pacemakers may have genetic link

March 1, 2018, University of Leicester

A team of researchers at the NIHR Leicester Biomedical Research Centre (BRC), UK, has found evidence to show that South Asian people (from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka) are less likely to require a pacemaker for an abnormally low heart rate compared to white people of European origin.

Abnormally slow (bradycardia) occurs when the electrical conduction system of the does not work properly. Symptoms include dizziness, fainting, confusion, shortness of breath and tiring easily after light physical activity. It is more common as people get older, especially after 75 years of age. The best way of managing significant bradycardia is to implant a permanent pacemaker. The device, which sits under the skin below the collarbone, is about the size of a 50 pence piece. It is connected to a pacing wire which sends an electrical impulse to stimulate the heart to beat when it detects that the heart rate is too low.

The researchers looked at the number of permanent pacemakers implanted in Leicestershire over an 8 year period. During that time, 4,883 people had a permanent implanted, which represents about five people in every 1000 of the local population. However, the rate of permanent pacemakers fitted in white people was nearly six times higher than in South Asian people, even when factors such as risk of heart disease and age were taken into account.

Iain Squire, professor of cardiovascular medicine at the University of Leicester and honorary consultant physician at Leicester's Hospitals, said: "From previous research comparing the two populations, we know that South Asians have higher incidences of coronary artery disease and stroke compared to people of European origin. However, with this particular heart condition, our study shows that the level of susceptibility is in fact reversed."

Professor Sir Nilesh Samani, cardiovascular theme lead for the NIHR Leicester BRC and Professor of Cardiology at the University of Leicester, said: "Leicester is a particularly good place to undertake research of this kind because of our mixed population. The results of this study raise the possibility that genetic differences at least partly explain the differences in risk of different heart conditions between South Asians and Europeans. Finding out the mechanisms, including any genetic variation that underpins these differences, is certainly warranted by further research."

Explore further: 'Smart' pacemaker can help slow heart keep up, avoid damage

More information: Evidence for reduced susceptibility to cardiac bradycardias in South Asians compared with Caucasians. Heart Published Online First: 20 February 2018. DOI: 10.1136/heartjnl-2017-312374

Related Stories

'Smart' pacemaker can help slow heart keep up, avoid damage

November 19, 2013
A new generation pacemaker that paces only when rhythm disturbances occur can reduce the risk of permanent abnormal heart rhythms in people with a slow heart rate, according to late-breaking research presented at the American ...

Study shows slow walking pace is good predictor of heart-related deaths

August 29, 2017
A team of researchers at the NIHR Leicester Biomedical Research Centre, UK - a partnership between Leicester's Hospitals, the University of Leicester and Loughborough University - has concluded that middle-aged people who ...

South Asians with family history of heart disease at greater risk

September 9, 2017
New research by UT Southwestern cardiologists shows that people of South Asian descent with a family history of coronary heart disease are significantly more likely to have high levels of calcium buildup in their arteries ...

Ethnicity could impact health of kidney transplant patients

July 28, 2016
People's ethnicity impacts their physical activity following a kidney transplant, according to research carried out by the University of Leicester.

Pacemaker for slow heart rhythm restores life expectancy

September 2, 2013
Pacemakers implanted for slow heart rhythm restore life expectancy to normal levels, reveals research presented at ESC Congress 2013 today by Dr Erik O. Udo from the Netherlands. The findings provide a new reference point ...

Higher risk of heart disease for South Asians in Canada

September 22, 2014
South Asians living in Canada have a higher rate of heart disease and double the rate of diabetes compared with while people, McMaster researchers have found.

Recommended for you

Novel genetic study sheds new light on risk of heart attack

October 12, 2018
Loss of a protein that regulates mitochondrial function can greatly increase the risk of myocardial infarction (heart attack), Vanderbilt scientists reported Oct. 3 in the journal eLife.

Researchers say ritual for orthodox Jewish men may offer heart benefits

October 11, 2018
A pilot study led by researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine suggests Jewish men who practice wearing tefillin, which involves the tight wrapping of an arm with leather banding as part of daily ...

Markers of dairy fat consumption linked to lower risk of type two diabetes

October 10, 2018
Higher levels of biomarkers of dairy fat consumption are associated with a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to new research published today in PLOS Medicine. The study, in more than 60,000 adults, was undertaken ...

Seed oils are best for LDL cholesterol

October 9, 2018
If you want to lower your low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, called LDL or, colloquially, "bad cholesterol," the research is clear about one thing: You should exchange saturated fats with unsaturated fat. If you want to ...

Micropeptide restores heart function in mice

October 9, 2018
Researchers have discovered a micropeptide molecule that can restore normal heart function in mice, according to a study in eLife.

New risk test for sepsis for heart patients

October 5, 2018
Nearly one in four deaths in people with heart failure are caused by sepsis, according to new research.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.