Your Health — Atrial fibrillation

Health Reports

2.7 million American slive 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 the travel to the brain,” said Brian Hansen of the Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State University.

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

“You’re familiar with jellyfish,” said Vadim Federov, professor of physiology and cell biology at Ohio State. “And sometimes, 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 A-fib.

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

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,” Federov said, “and the patients should not use any more blood thinners, which also have unfortunate side effects.”

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