Genetic Predisposition to Atrial Fibrillation (GENE-AF)

Years funded:
2017 - 2019

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common heart rhythm disorder. AF is a strong independent risk factor for heart failure and stroke and leads to a doubling in overall mortality. Despite multi-faceted treatment strategies, the incidence of AF continues to grow. The economic impact on society is considerable, with the number of AF related hospitalizations increasing by 7.9% annually, at an estimated annual cost of $1.25 billion to the Australian economy.
 
AF is a complex condition with many recognised risk factors such as age, heart disease and obesity. However, AF can also occur in younger people even without any known risk factors. Recent large-scale genetic studies have suggested that genes play a significant role in AF and associated serious complications such as stroke. However, the mechanisms by which common genetic variants lead to an increased risk of AF remain unknown.

Our research aims to demonstrate that individuals who carry specific genetic variants are more likely to develop abnormal electrical and structural changes in the heart which predispose to AF. In doing so, we aim to investigate the link between genetic factors and AF.  
  
This study will be the first detailed analysis of the role of genetic variants in the development of AF. We anticipate the results will pave the way for research into the underlying genetic mechanisms of AF and novel targeted therapies to disrupt these pathways and improve AF care.

Researcher Profile

Dr Geoffrey Wong

Institute: Melbourne Health
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