Genetic research could lead to new treatments for atrial fibrillation
Dr. Michael Gollob’s father was in his 40s and healthy when he developed atrial fibrillation (AF), a condition involving an irregular heart beat.
While his father lived into his 80s, not all AF patients do as well. Affecting about 350,000 Canadians, AF is “reaching epidemic proportions,” says Dr. Gollob – and it puts people at much higher risk for stroke.
His goal is to gain better understanding of AF at a genetic level, and to develop effective treatments. Dr. Gollob is a cardiac electrophysiologist and director of the Inherited Arrhythmia Clinic and Arrhythmia Research Laboratory at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute.
“Medications and procedures are frequently ineffective,” he says. “That’s why it’s important to get a grasp on this situation.”
The focus of his laboratory is to discover genes that, when defective, can give rise to AF in otherwise healthy people. Already, he and colleagues have identified two such genes. “By understanding how these defective genes alter the physiology of the heart and cells, we may be able to develop better treatments,” he says.
Dr. Gollob, recipient of a Heart and Stroke Foundation Mid-Career Investigator Award, hopes his research will one day help people like his father. “Presently we use a one-size-fits-all approach. We’re aiming for targeted medical therapy.”
- Family history can double your risk of heart disease and stroke. Know your risk.