Heart Rhythm Conference Stopped in its Tracks with Research

Presented by Dr. Nassir Marrouche, PhD.,

CARMA Executive Director


Salt Lake City – May 1, 2016, 10:31 am


Dr. Nassir Marrouche dropped jaws at the Heart Rhythm Symposium this week, introducing MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) as a basis for a new staging evaluation on patients diagnosed with atrial fibrillation.   This ‘staging’ or level of gradient diagnosis concept, gives physicians a measurement of diseased tissue condition to determine treatments and outcome.

At the Heart Rhythm Society 2015 conference, Dr. Marrouche, Executive Director of the Comprehensive Arrhythmia Research and Management (CARMA) Center at the University of Utah Health System, and his team presented intriguing new research into personalized AFib treatment.  This new staging process determines whether catheter ablation will likely stop an AFib based on the degree of fibrosis (hardened fibrotic tissue) in the atrium, personalizing atrial fibrillation treatment for each patient. This may offer additional insight into treatment outcomes which in the past, have relied on the clinical classifications of paroxysmal, persistent, and long-standing persistent atrial fibrillation.

The association between atrial fibrosis and atrial fibrillation is unclear, but generally more fibrosis means more severe AFib. The CARMA Center has been using MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) to assess the level of fibrosis resulting from atrial re-modeling.

This approach to evaluation not only gives the doctor clear and precise accounts of the hearts present condition, information based on a lesser absolute condition in the past, but also gives the patient a clear map of his or her level of damage and the options which pertain to their personnel situation.   Because of the many available options a person with AFib and arrhythmia diagnosis have, this measurement is invaluable for determination of status and prognosis of each patients’ condition.

“We now have a clear account of the condition of the damaged tissue and are able to determine possible outcomes with more accurate data.  This enables the heart team and patient come to desired outcomes on treatment which were unavailable in the past” commented Dr. Marrouche.


Dr. Nassir Marrouche is Director of the University of Utah’s Electrophysiology Laboratories and Atrial Fibrillation Program, as well as Executive Director of the CARMA (Comprehensive Arrhythmia Research and Management) Center.