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30th January 2020

Managing weight to tackle heart disease


Preventing atrial fibrillation.

Did you know atrial fibrillation (AF) causes the most hospitalisations of any heart condition in Australia, outnumbering heart attacks and heart failure?

AF is a condition where the heart beats out of rhythm. Along with causing palpitations, fainting and chest pain, patients with AF are at an increased risk of experiencing a life-threatening stroke.

Thankfully cardiologist Dr Dennis Lau and his research group at the Royal Adelaide Hospital are researching ways to minimise AF cases. He plans to progress pilot data which shows that treating obesity and other risk factors can reduce AF symptoms and potentially save lives.

“Urgent attention must be directed towards the management of AF to improve patient outcomes and reduce the burden on the individual sufferer and our healthcare system,” Dr Lau said.

Dr Lau is recruiting 200 AF patients for the study to be put into two randomised groups. The first will have an increased focus on weight management and the second will be managed by the current standard of care.

“All patients in the first group will see a physician and nurse to manage risk factors of obesity. They will keep a lifestyle and food journal that will be emailed weekly to the clinic staff for review,” Dr Lau said.

“The second group will be issued with once-off written and verbal advice regarding health nutrition and exercise guidelines.

“If the results prove that using aggressive weight management practices decreases the symptoms of AF, this could be a huge step in the treatment of AF. The potential reduction in hospitalisations and the need for procedures will have significant savings on our healthcare budget.

“This study will be of international significance and will have immediate and direct impact on clinical practice and guidelines.”

With this research, Dr Lau also aims to help transform the quality of life for patients and reduce their burden of AF.

This potentially lifesaving work has only been made possible through THRF’s generous donors! We look forward to sharing the outcomes from Dr Lau’s research.