The American Heart Association has announced grants totaling more than $14 million to create a research network dedicated to understanding the risk factors, causes, and disease processes of sudden cardiac arrest and cardiac arrhythmias.
Each year, nationally, more than three hundred and fifty thousand sudden out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur, with approximately 90 percent of those suffering a sudden cardiac arrest dying as a result. An arrhythmia is a change in the electrical pulses of the heart that causes it to beat too quickly, too slowly, or erratically. While arrhythmias are common and typically do not lead to cardiac arrest, most cardiac arrests are caused by arrhythmia.
The network includes Northwestern University, which will examine the genetic risks of sudden cardiac death; the University of Washington, which will explore sex differences in those who experience cardiac arrest; Vanderbilt University Medical Center, which will address potential treatments for ventricular arrhythmia; and the University of Michigan, which will research unique therapies to improve cardiac arrest survival rates, including a medication that can be delivered as a nasal spray during CPR. Each research team will receive more than $3.7 million to improve patient outcomes by developing, testing, and implementing innovative treatments for heart arrhythmias and sudden cardiac arrest.
"The intent of this initiative is to support a collaboration of basic, clinical, and population researchers from different disciplines whose collective efforts will lead to new approaches to study arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death," said David Van Wagoner, an arrhythmia research scientist at the Cleveland Clinic who served on AHA’s grant review team. "Over the next four years, we’ll have some of the most creative minds in cardiovascular research focused on solving the critical challenge of how to save more people from experiencing dangerous arrhythmias and dying of sudden cardiac arrest."
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