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Neuro-atriomyodegenerative origin of atrial fibrillation and superimposed conventional risk factors: continued search to configure the genuine etiology of “eternal arrhythmia”

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most challenging rhythm disturbance worldwide. Arrhythmia and its behavior represent complex pathogenesis highly opposing to contemporary curative modalities. Increasing age of patients carries a certain level of risk for AF. Some underlying diseases in concordance with aging actually accelerate the occurrence of AF. Underestimated superimposed risk factors – aging plus any known risk factor or condition (hypertension, diabetes etc.) – elicit great interest and concern. In light of these concerns we offer an elaborated universal hypothesis in attempt to elucidate the genuine origin of AF substrate. Putative chronic toxicity - toxins and/or involution related pseudo-toxins potentially generate micro- and macro-structural changes in atrial myocardium thus inciting both intracellular damage (degeneration of myocites, apoptosis) and extracellular fibrotic proliferation (interstitial fibrosis, formation of matrices, degeneration of cells with fibrotic replacement). The co-products of related underlying diseases in cooperation with cellular senescence, endogenous overproduction of specific lipids/lipoproteins and other pro-atherosclerotic and/or inflammatory components generate a total atrial response - vascular/microvascular damage, intracellular and extracellular injuries. These organizational arrangements covering the entire atrial myocardium and perhaps ganglionated plexi/autonomic branches of the nervous system eventually cause clinical havoc - atrial overstretch, atrial adaptation/maladaptation, electromechanical dysfunction, arrhythmias, heart failure, etc. In essence, valvular heart disease potentially evokes similar changes “violating” thin atrial walls to obey the same scenario. Depicted atriomyodegenerative processes most likely represent the true nature of AF substrate development. Available clinical and morphological evidence potentially designates the atriomyodegenerative or plausible neuro-atriomyodegenerative origin of AF. Deductively fusion of reasons rather than purely heterogeneity is responsible for AF induction. Thus, the uniform approach and synoptic vision of clinical and pathohistological entity may offer an alternative or refreshed viewpoint in AF substrate formation.

Credits: Petras Stirbys

Biosense Webster
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Introduction to AFib
Ablation Specialist

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