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Identifying a fast heartbeat to reduce heart failure risk

Medical stethoscope and red heart isolated on white background


An abnormally fast heartbeat, also known as atrial fibrillation (AF), can induce a disease called tachycardia-induced cardiomyopathy (TIC). This condition can result in heart failure. However, it is reversible and the damage can be prevented if the heartbeat is brought back to its normal rhythm using drugs or catheter therapy. TIC is currently diagnosed after ruling out other potential heart disorders. The genetic background of TIC is not well understood to identify which people with atrial fibrillation are at a high risk of developing TIC.

Researchers from Hiroshima University enrolled 930 Japanese patients with atrial fibrillation for screening, 350 Japanese patients with AF for replication and 1635 patients as controls with no AF.

The results shown in this study have a lot of potential in discovering patients with an abnormally fast heartbeat.

Previously, studies have identified 26 genetic variants associated with AF. Out of these, only two help regulate the heart’s conduction. The gene HCN4 is the only one known to control heart rate. That is why the scientists investigated how small changes in HCN4 could indicate a greater risk of developing heart failure.

In the screening AF group, the researchers compared HCN4 single-nucleotide polymorphism genotypes between AF subjects with TIC and those without TIC . Of 17 HCN4 gene-tag single-nucleotide polymorphisms, five were significantly associated with TIC. The scientists found that only one of the HCN4 gene-tag single-nucleotide polymorphisms was independently associated with TIC. This may be the new genetic marker that identifies which patient has an abnormally fast heartbeat and may have an increased risk of developing TIC.

The researchers plan to study this further and validate their results with a larger study sample. However, the results shown in this study have a lot of potential in discovering patients with high-risk atrial fibrillation. These patients can be at risk of developing heart failure, so this research can help identify them in order to engage in intervention therapies.

Source: Circulation: Genomic and Precision Medicine


Meena Azzollini

Meena is passionate about holistic wellbeing, alternative healing, health and personal power and uses words to craft engaging feature articles to convey her knowledge and passion. She is a freelance writer and content creator from Adelaide, Australia, who draws inspiration from family, travel and her love for books and reading.

A yoga practitioner and a strong believer in positive thinking, Meena is also a mum to a very active young boy. In her spare time, she loves to read and whip up delicious meals. She also loves the smell of freshly made coffee and can’t ever resist a cheesecake. And she gets tickled pink by anything funny!