Dr. Jeffrey Goldberger is chief of the Cardiovascular Division at UHealth, the University of Miami Health System. For more information on novel UHealth Afib treatments or to make an appointment, call 305-243-3845 or visit the University of Miami's health news blog
The cardiovascular team at UHealth, the University of Miami Health System, has just opened a new clinical trial that may improve treatment outcomes for patients with atrial fibrillation. Also known as “Afib,” atrial fibrillation is a common cause of irregular heart rhythms and is a major risk factor for stroke.
The LEAF (Liraglutide Effect in Atrial Fibrillation) trial is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and available only at UHealth. It will examine the effectiveness of the drug Liraglutide in reducing Afib. Previous studies have shown that Liraglutide reduces the fat tissue that surrounds the heart, called epicardial fat. Individuals with more epicardial fat have worse outcomes after catheter ablation. LEAF will test whether reduction of this fat improves outcomes of catheter ablation, a common treatment for atrial fibrillation.
Dr. Goldberger says Liraglutide is a novel drug for treatment of Afib. Until now, nothing has been available to help ensure the long-term health of Afib patients following an ablation procedure. “We’re hoping that addressing the risk factors that promote the Afib in addition to the ablation will dramatically improve outcomes,” says Dr. Goldberger.
“This is a new approach based on a lot of information that we already know about the relationship between epicardial fat, atrial fibrillation, and outcomes after ablation,” he says. Candidates for the study are patients who have been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, who are interested in having a catheter ablation for treatment, and are overweight.
Dr. Goldberger believes the drug and ablation therapy, combined with diet and exercise, can have a lasting impact on the health of patients like Maria, who became the first person to enroll in the LEAF study. Maria has been struggling with symptoms of Afib for two years. “You feel like you are trapped in a 100-year-old body. You want to do many things, to get up and jump and run, and at the same time you’re so short of breath,” she says.
Maria’s wish is to return to the level of energy and activity she had before she was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation so she can keep up with her young grandchildren. She says, “I really, really hope that we will be able to control the heart, to cure the heart, so I can have a normal heart rhythm.”
Together with his colleagues, Dr. Goldberger hopes to enroll a total of 60 participants in the study, which will run for two years. “We are focused on a team approach,” he says. “Our doctors are specialists in atrial fibrillation, and we also bring in experts from a variety of different fields to help us come up with practical, new solutions for diagnosis, for treatment, and for prevention of atrial fibrillation.”
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