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New study will examine global burden of abnormal heart rhythm

A new study which will be the first to quantify the global burden of the most common abnormal heart rhythm, called atrial fibrillation, has been launched by researchers at Queen Mary, University of London.

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Atrial fibrillation is common condition in which the two upper chambers of the heart, called the atria, quiver rather than beat rhythmically. Sufferers are at a higher risk of stroke and heart failure.

The chance of developing the condition increases with age and experts believe that longer life expectancies are leading to a rise in cases.

Ajay Kakkar, Professor of Surgical Sciences at Queen Mary, University of London is Director of the Thrombosis Research Institute. He said: “The burden of atrial fibrillation is grossly underestimated, but with an aging population, the frequency and impact of this disease will continue to increase.”

The study will be run by the Thrombosis Research Institute, a charity affiliated to the College. It will include 50,000 patients in 32 countries across Africa, the Americas, Asia, Australia and Europe who have been newly diagnosed with the disease.

Over six years, patients will be monitored for stokes, blood clots, and heart attacks. The researchers will also investigate the effects of managing the condition with anti-blood clotting drugs to determine how often patients should be monitored to maintain the correct dose.

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