AF Symposium 2017
Some Forms of Fibrosis May Be Reversible
Background: Fibrosis is tissue with fiber-like characteristics; over time it makes the heart stiff, less flexible and weak, overworks the heart, reduces pumping efficiency and leads to other heart problems.
Dr. Stanley Nattel of the University of Montreal, Montreal, Canada discussed whether fibrosis is reversible. In a very hopeful study for Atrial Fibrillation patients, he concluded that some forms or types of fibrosis are indeed reversible.
Heart Attack Fibrosis
Dr. Nattel described a typical heart attack victim who experiences actual heart tissue damage and areas of heart tissue death. In these damaged heart areas, fibrous tissue replaces dead cardiomyocytes (scarring). This form of fibrosis may be irreversible.
Interstitial (A-Fib) Fibrosis
But A-Fib fibrosis is often “purely interstitial” or reactive to the A-Fib. (“Interstitial” refers to the space between cells or myocytes.) This type of fibrosis may indeed be reversible.
Dr. Nattel described his experiments with overweight sheep. A 30% weight lost reduced fibrosis (collagen formation) in these overweight sheep, as well as inflammation and incidence of A-Fib.
(For more research findings, see Dr. Jose Jalife’s experiments in sheep which reduced fibrosis by 50%: The Holy Grail: Preventing A-Fib by a GAl-3 Inhibitor.)
What Patients Need to Know
Some A-Fib Fibrosis May Be Reversible: This is encouraging for A-Fib patients. Even if you develop fibrosis from being in A-Fib, some of this fibrosis may be reversible.
But much more research needs to be done to figure out how best to reverse A-Fib fibrosis. And some long-term A-Fib fibrosis may indeed be irreversible when it produces lasting scarring (dead fibrotic tissue).
Don’t Live in A-Fib and Develop Fibrosis: If you have A-Fib, you are most likely developing a fibrotic heart. The good news from Dr. Nattel (and Dr. Jalife) is that returning to normal sinus rhythm may reverse a good deal of fibrosis in your heart.
In spite of what you hear in today’s media and advertisements, don’t just live in A-Fib and develop fibrosis! Seek your cure!