Atrial fibrillation (AF) affects 50-100,000 Danes. AF is often associated with discomfort such as palpitations, shortness of breath and fatigue and is the single most common cause of stroke. Its prevalence increases with age and, with the changing demographics in Denmark, a steady rise in the number of Danes suffering from AF is anticipated.
AF is often associated with discomfort such as palpitations, shortness of breath and fatigue and is the single most common cause of stroke as thrombi formed in the left atrial appendage may dislodge and travel through the blood stream to the brain where a disabling stroke may result. The risk of suffering a stroke is thus 4-5-fold increased in AF patients.
The causes of AF are partially unknown. So far, treatment has consisted of lifelong medication for stabilising (seldom normalising) the heart rhythm and anticoagulant therapy for reducing the risk of stroke. In addition, surgical intervention has been attempted in recent years.
The purpose of studying this disease area is to examine the effect of genes, diet and life style, in particular the intake of fish oils, on the development and treatment of AF. We will also study the coagulation of the blood using advanced new procedures and compare new types of surgery for AF, focusing on the patients’ symptoms and quality of life.
The project is based on 9 PhD studies several of which are part of international research collaborations and aim at:
- achieving a deeper understanding of the causes of AF
- improving treatment options
- reducing the substantial costs for the individuals affected, their families and society at large
In 2009, the Danish Council for Strategic Research awarded a DKK 20.1 million grant to the research group behind the project “Atrial Fibrillation – an epidemic. From genes and lifestyle to prevention and treatment” – an essential supplement to the research in AF at Aalborg University Hospital – a substantial supplement to the AF research at Aalborg University Hospital.