Improved diagnostic precision and a route to personalized therapy for a common arrhythmia

  • Atrial fibrillation is an irregular and often very fast heartbeat that can cause the formation of blood clots in the heart, increasing the risk of stroke, heart failure, and related complications. Atrial fibrillation condition affects an estimated 10 million people in Europe, and around 700,000 in Spain.

    Atrial fibrillation is currently classified according to the length of time that the patient has been in arrhythmia. This temporal classification provides no information about a patient’s extent of atrial remodeling, an especially important parameter in the first months of the condition, when the underlying disease processes can progress at different rates.

    A multidisciplinary study led by scientists at the Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Cardiovasculares (CNIC) presents a new method for assessing the structural and electrophysiological changes, called atrial remodeling, produced in the heart of patients with atrial fibrillation, one of the most frequent forms of cardiac arrhythmia. The new diagnostic method is based on the simultaneous assessment of electrical and mechanical (contractile) activity in the heart atria during atrial fibrillation.

    The importance of this new diagnostic method is its ability to provide a personalized assessment of an individual patient’s degree of atrial remodeling, independently of the clinical classification based on temporal criteria.

    A key advantage of the new approach is that atrial electromechanical dissociation is identified before the appearance of overt clinical signs of structural atrial remodeling. The use of this new diagnostic approach allows early characterization of the underlying remodeling in patients with atrial fibrillation. The study shows that it is possible to integrate electrical and mechanical data from the atria of patients with atrial fibrillation to obtain personalized prognostic information about the clinical progression of the disease.

    Scientific publication

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    David Filgueiras Rama, Jorge García Quintanilla, Javier Sánchez