Chronic Atrial fibrillation in horses

Principal investigators: Rikke Buhl and Thomas Jespersen

Study Director: Helena Carstensen and Eva Z Hesselkilde

Master students: Kirsten Ravn, Karen Hougaard, Bjørg Zinkernagel Klein


Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a cardiac arrhythmia where the overall control of the electrical impulse controlling the heart rhythm is lost. Understanding and treatment of this disease is poor compared to other cardiac diseases due to an insufficient understanding of the pathogenesis and especially the knowledge regarding development of AF into chronic disease is limited. One reason for this may be that there is a lack of good and representative animal models for studying the disease as most mammals do not develop this disease. With this project we wish to introduce a unique and highly needed research animal model - The horse.


It is our goal to establish a chronic AF model in horses for studying the development of AF over time. Development of chronic AF under controlled conditions is pivotal, as it will enable us to study the dynamics and burden of AF - especially following time-dependent remodeling from onset of the disease until it becomes permanent.          


To reach these objectives, studies in both horses with experimentally induced chronic AF and horses with naturally occurring AF, are planned to characterize the electrical, structural and functional remodeling in the equine heart suffering from AF.