Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a heart condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It is a type of arrhythmia, which is an irregular heartbeat that occurs when the heart's electrical signals don't function properly. In AF, the atria, which are the upper chambers of the heart, quiver or contract rapidly and irregularly, which can lead to an irregular and often rapid heartbeat in the lower chambers of the heart, the ventricles.
AF can be a serious condition and can cause a variety of symptoms, including heart palpitations, shortness of breath, chest pain, and fatigue. It can also lead to complications such as blood clots, stroke, heart failure, and other cardiovascular diseases.
Persistent AF is a type of AF that lasts for more than 7 days or requires medical treatment to stop. Doctors treat persistent AF with a procedure called catheter ablation. During this procedure, a doctor uses a catheter to create tiny scars in the heart tissue that block the abnormal electrical signals causing AF. However, even with this procedure, some patients still experience AF symptoms.
To try and improve the success rate of catheter ablation, doctors have been studying a technique called magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-guided fibrosis ablation. This technique involves using MRI scans to identify areas of fibrosis (scarring) in the heart that could be contributing to AF. Then, during catheter ablation, the doctor uses radiofrequency energy to destroy these areas of fibrosis.