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About the GCIC. Atrial Fibrillation Innovation Center

Cleveland Clinic, together with institutional partners Case Western Reserve University and the University of Cincinnati, and leading commercial partners received a $23M grant from the state of Ohio Third Frontier Program to establish the Atrial Fibrillation Innovation Center (AFIC), a Wright Center of Innovation.  Launched in 2005, AFIC spearheaded the charge to address the great suffering imposed by atrial fibrillation (AF or AFib), while catalyzing an emerging Ohio AF medical device industry.

AFIC’s uniquely qualified team — the nation’s largest and most innovative clinical programs, research scientists, and an unrivaled commercialization group — jointly implemented an exceptionally collaborative five-prong research program to advance new AF therapies and to quickly bring them to market for the benefit of AF sufferers.  Key areas of investigation focused on:

  1. Developing new surgical treatment technologies.
  2. Improving catheter-enabled treatment techniques and instrumentation.
  3. Conducting basic science and translational studies into biochemical, cellular and genetic causes for AF.
  4. Developing next generation AF treatment strategies.
  5. Specifying novel patient assessments to better document therapy outcomes and AF mechanisms.

What is Atrial Fibrillation?

The heart pumps blood to the rest of the body.  During each heart beat, the two upper chambers of the heart (atria) contract, followed by the two lower chambers (ventricles).  These actions, when timed perfectly, allow for an efficient pump.  The timing of the heart’s contractions is directed by electrical impulses traveling between the atria and the ventricles.

Atrial fibrillation is the most common irregular heart rhythm and is a very serious condition.  Instead of a coordinated rhythm, many different impulses rapidly fire at once, causing a very fast, chaotic rhythm in the atria.  Because the electrical impulses are so fast and chaotic, the atria cannot contract and/or squeeze blood effectively into the ventricle.

In AF, the heart’s electrical signals cannot travel efficiently into the ventricles causing them to contract irregularly as well, leading to a rapid and irregular heartbeat and decreasing the heart’s pumping ability.  In addition, atrial fibrillation that occurs over a long period of time can significantly weaken the heart and lead to heart failure.  Because the atria are beating rapidly and irregularly, blood does not flow through them as quickly.  This makes the blood more likely to clot.  If a clot is pumped out of the heart, it can travel to the brain, resulting in a stroke.  People with atrial fibrillation are 5 to 7 times more likely to have a stroke than the general population.  Clots can also travel to other parts of the body (kidneys, heart, intestines), and cause other damage.

Where can I get more information on Atrial Fibrillation?

For more information on AF, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment options:

Each of the AFIC academic partner institutions has informative atrial fibrillation websites:

Additional AF Links