BEAT AFib One Year Milestone

By December 8, 2021 No Comments

What we Aim to do in BEAT-AFib

Atrial Fibrillation (AFib or AF) is the most common heart arrhythmia seen in practice. However, we do not currently have a good way of identifying patients who are most at risk for developing AFib, nor are we able to identify who might progress to having more frequent episodes in patients already diagnosed with AFib. While we have ways to treat AFib, we are still looking for strategies for preventing AFib from occurring in the first place. Therefore, in this novel study, we aim to fill in these gaps and identify the various factors that contribute to AFib development and progression. We are studying biomarkers—molecules in the blood that might be an indicator of risk. You can think of cholesterol as a biomarker for developing coronary disease; but, we don’t currently have a “cholesterol” for AFib.  We hope to change that. 

We are also looking at other potential markers, other than those that might be found in the blood. For example, we are studying subtle structural changes of the heart via imaging (using echocardiography and MRI in some participants) that might predate the occurrence of AFib. We are also studying electrical abnormalities from ECGs using a new approach of recording high-resolution ECGs to pick up subtle signals not present on a standard ECG. We are also interested in how behaviors (eg. sleep, exercise, and stress) might affect the risk as well. Together, we are contributing to a growing body of research that will help us better understand the development and progression of AFib.

Your contribution

In our first year, we have enrolled 99 patients. With your help we’ve been able to collect 3,445 Kardia AliveCor ECG recordings, recorded 13,248 hours of VivaLNK patch ECG data, and completed 91 high-resolution ECGs. In the next year, we plan to continue enrolling participants and collect thousands of hours of patch ECG data, Kardia recordings, and other data.

Who are our participants?

The average age of the BEAT-Fib study participants is 64 years, and 69% of participants are male. Most of our participants have AFib, and half of this group has undergone an ablation. Approximately 28% of participants do not have a history of AFib. We hope to be able to use data from this group to find new predictors of developing AFib. Looking at the distribution of common AFib risk factors amongst our study population, 55% of our participants have a history of hypertension (high blood pressure), 36% have a history of obstructive sleep apnea, and 33% have a BMI over 30 kg/cm. 

The Cognitive Assessment

Many of you might be wondering why we are doing cognitive assessments in BEAT AFib. While these series of tests do assess your memory and your ability to think and make decisions, the cognitive assessment is not an IQ test or a screener for Alzheimer’s Disease. There is emerging literature demonstrating a relationship between cognitive function and atrial fibrillation (AFib). Our study is interested in learning whether treatment of AFib may improve cognitive function and/or prevent cognitive decline in AFib patients. We also hope to identify markers that might predict subtle cognitive decline. By undergoing the cognitive assessment, you are helping us contribute to this new body of research since BEAT-AFib is one of the few studies looking at sequential assessments to detect subtle changes over time. Some of the tests are easier and some are meant to be more challenging. Don’t worry, there is no perfect score! You can read more about this area of research here.

Beat AFib

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