Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common age-related, progressive tachyarrhythmia. Almost 34 million people worldwide are diagnosed with AF, therefore it is also called the cardiovascular epidemic of the 21st century.
With this project we aim to unravel the role of the autonomic nervous system in the pathophysiology of AF. We will investigate the effect of low-level vagal stimulation on atrial electrical activity in patients undergoing cardiac surgery. Subsequently we will investigate whether low-level vagal stimulation can be used in clinical practice to treat or even prevent AF.
Treating and preventing (post-operative) AF with this novel, non-invasive technique will have considerable effects on the patients wellbeing, quality of life and eventually on healthcare costs. It will also result in a reduction of AF-related complications (e.g. stroke, heart failure).