Computer modeling provides encouraging results for personalized treatment of atrial fibrillation

Researchers validated a computer model that reliably predicted where irregular heartbeats persist. The model helped clinicians identify the heart tissue that would benefit from ablation to restore normal heartbeat in 10 patients with atrial fibrillation (AFib). The OPTIMA (OPtimal Target Identification via Modelling of Arrhythmogenesis) approach could one day inform personalized treatment and management of AFib.

Ablation, a common surgical procedure, removes the areas of tissue thought to sustain the unhelpful impulses that define AFib. But the conventional technique does not prevent repeat ablation procedures or incorporate strategies for finding the regions of the heart that may be subjected to tissue scarring due to the procedure.

With an average follow-up period of 309 days, none of the 10 patients in the pilot study experienced an episode of AFib. And, only one patient underwent another ablation procedure to treat a different type of AFib. The study, published in Nature Biomedical Engineering, was funded by NHLBI.