Molecular biology and atrial fibrillation

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Atrial fibrillation remains one of the most challenging arrhythmias in cardiology. Despite the overall advance in the treatment of patients with cardiac dysrhythmias with the introduction of radiofrequency ablation, therapeutic options in atrial fibrillation have remained largely unchanged and aimed at controlling the heart rate and anticoagulation. New surgical and ablation compartmentalization techniques are being developed that are promising, but to date these techniques are still extremely laborious and available only to a handful of patients. Advances in genetics and molecular biology will likely give new insights into the development of the disease. Molecular biology research is presently focused into two main fields: 1) identification of the genes that cause familial forms of the disease, and 2) altered gene expression during the disease state. These studies are aimed at identifying not only the triggering factors in the acute form but also those that prolong the arrhythmia and convert it into a chronic form.

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