January 12, 2013

Researchers find atrial fibrillation clue

Heart image scanScientists we fund at the University of Bristol have made a breakthrough in our understanding of one of the most common heart conditions in the UK.

Atrial fibrillation affects around 750,000 people in the UK, and greatly increases the risk of having a stroke. It's an irregular heart rhythm in the atria, the top chambers of the heart where each heart beat starts.

The scientists discovered that electrical activity in the atria, in rats, can become disrupted when the heart is under stress - such as when one of the arteries serving the heart with oxygen becomes blocked by coronary heart disease.

Like all of our research, this project relies on donations from the public.

Our Associate Medical Director, Professor Jeremy Pearson, said:

"This study brings us closer to understanding how atrial fibrillation develops, in particular in people whose hearts are under greater pressure due to the effects of a previous history of heart disease. It's vital that we continue to improve our understanding of this condition so we can find new treatments for patients in the future."

The research was published in American Heart Association journal Circulation.