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July 12, 2021/News Releases

NIH Funds Research into New Method to Predict Atrial Fibrillation Recurrence

Research consortium led by Cleveland Clinic and Case Western Reserve University

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A team led by researchers from Cleveland Clinic and Case Western Reserve University have received a $2.95 million grant over four years from the National Institutes of Health to explore how imaging can be used to predict the risk of atrial fibrillation recurrence.

Using novel computational imaging methods they developed, the researchers will analyze cardiac computed tomography (CT) scans to identify anatomic features that may help predict which patients with atrial fibrillation (AFib) are at higher risk for recurrence following ablation. The four year multi-institutional retrospective study will develop and validate a new risk prediction tool through the use of artificial intelligence to analyze data from more than 2,000 patients who have undergone AFib ablation procedures.

“Improved ability to determine who may have recurrent AFib following the procedure would greatly help both patient and clinician decision making,” said Cleveland Clinic cardiologist Mina Chung, M.D. “There is a clear unmet need for non-invasive imaging tools to help us identify which parts of the anatomy to target and personalize ablation or medical therapies.”

AFib is the most common type of irregular heart rhythm that can interrupt normal blood flow, making the heart work less efficiently. The condition is associated with an increased risk of stroke, heart failure and even death. According to estimates by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 12 million people in the United States will have AFib by 2030.

When medications do not work to correct or control AFib, a procedure may be necessary such as: electrical cardioversion, pulmonary vein antrum isolation or surgical ablation. An ablation works by scarring or destroying heart tissue to disrupt faulty electrical signals causing the arrhythmia.

Using novel computational imaging methods they developed, the researchers will analyze cardiac computed tomography (CT) scans to identify anatomic features that may help identify which AFib patients following ablation are at higher risk for recurrence. This project will also seek to provide insights into anatomic differences between patients who are likely to suffer recurrence from those who are not, using genetic and electrical mapping. Researchers hope the radiographic and clinical data gathered will lead to the creation of a novel artificial intelligence-based imaging platform that can be tested for personalized targeting of ablation, as well as insights into the biologic basis of AFib.

The research team is led by co-principal investigators Dr. Chung, M.D. and John Barnard, Ph.D., of Cleveland Clinic’s Lerner Research Institute and Anant Madabhushi, Ph.D., who has dual appointments at the Case Western Reserve School of Medicine and Case School of Engineering. The team also includes colleagues from Vanderbilt University Medical Center and University Hospitals.

This new NIH-funded work builds on research conducted by Cleveland Clinic and Case Western Reserve University investigators that was recently published in the journals Circulation: Arrhythmia and Electrophysiology and BMC Medical Imaging.

“While most of our work so far at the Center for Computational Imaging and Personalized Diagnostics (CCIPD) has focused on the use of radiomics and machine learning for predicting outcomes and treatment response for various cancers, this project is an exciting opportunity to validate these approaches for predicting response to treatment for AFib,” said Dr. Madabhushi, the Donnell Institute Professor of Biomedical Engineering and director of CCIPD at Case Western Reserve.

Media Contacts:

Shannon Kelley, Cleveland Clinic: 216-318-8067, Nealons@ccf.org

Mike Scott, Case Western Reserve: 216-368-1004; mike.scott@case.edu

About Cleveland Clinic
Cleveland Clinic – now in its centennial year – is a nonprofit multispecialty academic medical center that integrates clinical and hospital care with research and education. Located in Cleveland, Ohio, it was founded in 1921 by four renowned physicians with a vision of providing outstanding patient care based upon the principles of cooperation, compassion and innovation. Cleveland Clinic has pioneered many medical breakthroughs, including coronary artery bypass surgery and the first face transplant in the United States. U.S. News & World Report consistently names Cleveland Clinic as one of the nation’s best hospitals in its annual “America’s Best Hospitals” survey. Among Cleveland Clinic’s 70,800 employees worldwide are more than 4,660 salaried physicians and researchers, and 18,500 registered nurses and advanced practice providers, representing 140 medical specialties and subspecialties. Cleveland Clinic is a 6,500-bed health system that includes a 173-acre main campus near downtown Cleveland, 19 hospitals, more than 220 outpatient facilities, and locations in southeast Florida; Las Vegas, Nevada; Toronto, Canada; Abu Dhabi, UAE; and London, England. In 2020, there were 8.7 million total outpatient visits, 273,000 hospital admissions and observations, and 217,000 surgical cases throughout Cleveland Clinic’s health system. Patients came for treatment from every state and 185 countries. Visit us at clevelandclinic.org. Follow us at twitter.com/ClevelandClinic. News and resources available at newsroom.clevelandclinic.org.

Editor’s Note: Cleveland Clinic News Service is available to provide broadcast-quality interviews and B-roll upon request.

About Case Western Reserve University
Case Western Reserve University is one of the country's leading private research institutions. Located in Cleveland, we offer a unique combination of forward-thinking educational opportunities in an inspiring cultural setting. Our leading-edge faculty engage in teaching and research in a collaborative, hands-on environment. Our nationally recognized programs include arts and sciences, dental medicine, engineering, law, management, medicine, nursing and social work. About 5,100 undergraduate and 6,700 graduate students comprise our student body. Visit case.edu to see how Case Western Reserve thinks beyond the possible.

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