Heart Rhythm Disease Program

The Heart Rhythm Disease Program in the Cardiovascular Research Center focuses on several areas related to cardiac arrhythmias.

Atrial fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation is a major focus of the Heart Rhythm Disease Program. Mayo Clinic leads the Catheter Ablation versus Anti-Arrhythmic Drug Therapy for Atrial Fibrillation (CABANA) trial, a National Institutes of Health-funded study involving 131 international medical centers.

Results from the ongoing CABANA trial will answer whether catheter ablation is superior to current therapy for eliminating atrial fibrillation and improving patient quality of life and outcomes.

In addition, the Heart Rhythm Disease Program has a robust atrial fibrillation database in Olmsted County, Minn. Researchers are developing novel approaches to reduce the risk of stroke in people with atrial fibrillation by designing devices that would remove the left atrial appendage, where most of the blood clots originate in these patients.

Researchers are also examining novel mechanisms that may lead to the development of atrial fibrillation, including the role of microRNAs, autoimmunity, inflammatory mediators, central nervous system activities and blood vessel abnormalities.

Sudden arrhythmia death

Mayo Clinic is one of the major referral centers for the evaluation and treatment of people with genetic causes of sudden arrhythmia death. Research in the Heart Rhythm Disease Program focuses on the role of autonomic modulation on cardiac arrhythmias, including sudden cardiac death.

Sympathetic denervation has been successfully used to treat patients at risk of sudden cardiac death, such as those with long QT syndrome and catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia.

Researchers also are extending the use of this approach to the treatment of ventricular tachycardia and ventricular fibrillation in people with ischemic and nonischemic cardiomyopathies.

Cardiac devices

Another major focus of the Heart Rhythm Disease Program is in the area of cardiac devices: pacemakers, implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs) and cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT).