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Clinical Trials

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) is strongly committed to supporting research aimed at preventing and treating heart, lung, and blood diseases and conditions and sleep disorders.

NHLBI-supported research has led to many advances in medical knowledge and care. However, many questions remain about various diseases and conditions, including atrial fibrillation (AF).

The NHLBI continues to support research aimed at learning more about AF. For example, NHLBI-supported research on AF includes studies that explore:

  • Ways to improve catheter ablation procedures in people who have AF
  • Whether fish oil supplements can lower the risk of repeat episodes of AF
  • Whether genetic factors can help determine the best dosing strategies for warfarin, a blood-thinning medicine
  • Ways to predict the risk of complications, such as stroke, for people with AF
  • Whether an implantable cardiac monitor provides the ability to remotely and continuously evaluate a person for repeat episodes of AF
  • The effectiveness of a new drug therapy for people with AF who must stop taking their blood thinning drug prior to surgery

Much of this research depends on the willingness of volunteers to take part in clinical trials. Clinical trials test new ways to prevent, diagnose, or treat various diseases and conditions.

For example, new treatments for a disease or condition (such as medicines, medical devices, surgeries, or procedures) are tested in volunteers who have the illness. Testing shows whether a treatment is safe and effective in humans before it is made available for widespread use.

Some clinical trials compare two current treatments. For example, the NHLBI is supporting a trial that compares catheter ablation with rate control or rhythm control medicines in people who have AF.

The study results will help researchers understand which of these treatments is best, and whether one is better than another in certain situations. For more information about this study, go to

By taking part in a clinical trial, you can gain access to new treatments before they're widely available. You also will have the support of a team of health care providers, who will likely monitor your health closely. Even if you don't directly benefit from the results of a clinical trial, the information gathered can help others and add to scientific knowledge.

If you volunteer for a clinical trial, the research will be explained to you in detail. You'll learn about treatments and tests you may receive, and the benefits and risks they may pose. You'll also be given a chance to ask questions about the research. This process is called informed consent.

If you agree to take part in the trial, you'll be asked to sign an informed consent form. This form is not a contract. You have the right to withdraw from a study at any time, for any reason. Also, you have the right to learn about new risks or findings that emerge during the trial.

For more information about clinical trials related to AF, talk with your doctor. You also can visit the following Web sites to learn more about clinical research and to search for clinical trials:

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Last Updated: September 18, 2014