[Cite as http://purl.org/au-research/grants/nhmrc/399116]
Prof Prashanthan Sanders
Brief description Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common heart rhythm disorder to affect humans, occurring in 2% of adults. It is a chaotic rhythm disorder of the top chambers of the heart that results in frequent hospitalization for falls, chest pain, palpitations, heart failure and stroke. In addition, it is associated with an increased mortality. Evidence suggests an important role of the pulmonary veins (PV; veins draining blood from the lungs back to the heart) in the initiation and maintenance of AF. However, why these structures promote AF remains unknown. Several conditions predisposing to the development of AF are associated with atrial stretch (such as heart failure). These conditions have documented abnormalities within the atria but the changes that occur within the PVs are unknown. It has even been suggested that pulsatile stretch, as caused by blood flow, in the appropriately predisposed patient, may be enough to trigger AF. As such there has been an intensive search to identify the abnormalities that occur within the PVs. In patients with AF, the PVs demonstrate distinctive electrophysiological properties compared to those without AF. However, the effect of stretch, a common predisposing factor, on the electrophysiological properties of the PV is not known. Preventing electrical activity from the PVs interacting with the heart by ablation has provided a glimpse at our ability to cure AF. However, further improvements in our procedural technique, the ability to prevent the occurrence of this rhythm disorder, and the development of noninvasive strategies to cure AF, hinges on the better understanding of the mechanisms initiating and maintaining this condition. In particular, the electrophysiological changes within the PVs that predispose patients to the development of AF need to be investigated. This series of studies will evaluate the effect of acute and chronic stretch on the PVs in humans to determine why these structures promote AF.
Funding Amount $AUD 569,823.37
Funding Scheme NHMRC Project Grants
New Investigator Grant