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AFib: Pinpointing the Cause in a Beating Heart

Scientists are studying ex-vivo, to test a new way of pinpointing the source of AFib
Scientists are studying ex-vivo, to test a new way of pinpointing the source of AFib(WGEM)
Updated: Jul. 29, 2021 at 2:19 PM CDT
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COLUMBUS, Ohio (Ivanhoe Newswire)— Atrial fibrillation, or AFib, happens when the heart’s electrical pulses get out of sync, causing an irregular heartbeat. Doctors can treat it with ablation … destroying the tiny bit of heart tissue that’s causing the problem. Now scientists are using ex-vivo, or beating donated human hearts, to test a new way of pinpointing the source of AFib. Ivanhoe has more.

Two-point-seven million Americans live with atrial fibrillation, a condition that causes the heart to pump out of sync and blood to pool and clot.

“The most dangerous side effect of atrial fibrillation is stroke because that clot can then travel to the brain,” stated Brian Hansen, MD/PhD Candidate, Wexner Medical Center, OSU.

Now, scientists are studying donated human hearts to better detect the precise point where arrythmia starts. Researchers are injecting the atria with a dye and using infrared light to see inside the heart wall.

Vadim Fedorov, PhD, Professor, Physiology and Cell Biology, OSU Medical Center explained, “You’re familiar with jellyfish. And sometime if you see jellyfish that has fluorescent light glowing, we actually can see this glowing inside of the heart. After we inject the dye.”

The hearts are preserved in a special fluid, and when warmed, start to beat. The researchers have multiple cameras positioned to capture four dimensional images and create computer models. The goal is to find the exact cells, or drivers, that are causing the AFib.

“If you can find that circuit, you can then break that circuit with this ablation procedure. And that should quiet down the electrical storm elsewhere in the heart,” said Hansen.

Researchers say the more precise surgeons can be during ablation, the better the results for the patients.

“We can prevent any risk of the stroke and the patients should not use any more blood thinners, which also have unfortunate side effects,” exclaimed Fedorov.

Helping get the human heart back on track.

The Ohio State research team also found that a chemical that is present in human cells and already used by physicians, called adenosine, may help pinpoint the exact source of the arrythmia. In a small pilot trial of ten patients, surgeons used adenosine to guide their ablation. Doctors say eight of the 10 patients were helped by the new method.

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