SEK 1.2 million for blood test study on atrial fibrillation

27 April 2023

Picture of Ziad Hijazi in the lab

“The blood samples contain a lot of information that is still unfamiliar to us,” notes Hijazi, who will establish a biobank with blood samples to provide better treatment against atrial fibrillation.

Can a blood test provide guidance on the best treatment for patients with atrial fibrillation? Ziad Hijazi, Docent and Senior Consultant in Cardiology, thinks so. He will analyse blood samples from patients undergoing a procedure to get rid of the fibrillation.

Atrial fibrillation is a common disease in Sweden, affecting around three percent of the population. The condition leads to an increased risk of stroke and death, and in many cases a reduced quality of life. Affected patients are often treated primarily with drugs.

In cases where medications do not provide sufficient help, an atrial fibrillation ablation is often recommended – a procedure that prevents the electrical signals that cause the fibrillation from spreading.

“It is an important treatment that can improve patients’ quality of life. However, as with any procedure, the advantages must be weighed against the disadvantages. Some patients, around 25 percent, get the fibrillation back,” explains Hijazi, docent at Uppsala University and senior consultant in cardiology at Uppsala University Hospital.

Relapse risk to be studied using blood tests

He has now received SEK 1.2 million from the Swedish Heart Lung Foundation to establish a biobank containing blood samples from patients undergoing atrial fibrillation ablation. The project is being conducted together with colleagues at Uppsala University Hospital and the university hospitals of Linköping and Örebro. Their hope is to identify proteins in the blood that can predict which patients will respond well to the treatment and which ones should be treated differently.

If the study is successful, the idea is that all patients facing a possible ablation will be able to provide a blood sample first.

“The blood test can then guide the patient and doctor in terms of the risk of relapse and the chances of success. Everyone could benefit from it. Patients deemed to have little chance of responding well to the ablation don’t have to undergo an intervention, and within the healthcare system resources can then be allocated to those who have the best chance of responding well to this treatment.”