Atrial fibrillation is the leading form of irregular heartbeat, known as arrhythmia, which causes poor blood flow in patients. Patients often experience heart palpitations, shortness of breath and weakness that can make daily activities challenging. In addition, prolonged arrhythmia has been linked to the formations of blood clots that may form blockages. There are an estimated 2.3 million patients in the United States today, with rates rising steadily and expected to double by 2040.
The condition is often treated through direct current cardioversion, an aggressive, in-hospital medical procedure that sends an electric shockto the heart. Even after successful treatment, patients can develop the arrhythmia again – requiring retreatment in a hospital setting.
Pharmaceutical treatments are an attractive alternative, if effective, as they could allow for easier, lower-cost treatment and potentially at a patient’s own home. There are limited pharmaceutical treatments utilized today, due to limited efficacy and undesirable side effect profiles.