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Prestigious Accolade for Researcher

Dr Jiun H Tuan, Clinical Research Fellow at the Department of Cardiovascular Sciences.

Prestigious Accolade for Researcher

Young Investigator Prize for Clinical Research Fellow

Issued on 23 March 2010

Dr Jiun H Tuan, Clinical Research Fellow at the Department of Cardiovascular Sciences, won a prestigious Young Investigator Prize at the annual Heart Rhythm Congress 2009.

He was one of 6 finalists shortlisted for the competition at the annual conference of the Heart Rhythm UK, which is the national society dealing with all aspects of heart rhythm care.

There were two top prizes for the competition (basic and clinical science). Dr Tuan won the clinical prize which was announced and presented to him during the Gala Dinner at the Birmingham Hilton Metropole Hotel.

Dr Tuan has been working under the supervision of Dr G André Ng, Senior Lecturer in Cardiology on the subject of catheter ablation for atrial fibrillation (AF). AF is the commonest heart rhythm disturbance seen in clinical practice whereby the heart beats irregularly. The top chambers of the heart (atria) beat in a chaotic fashion which causes the heart to work inefficiently as a pump.

Patients with AF can feel palpitation (fast heart beats), breathlessness and dizziness. Over half a million people have the condition in the UK and the incidence of the condition increases with age. It is associated with a 5-fold increase in the risk of stroke and can cause heart failure and increased mortality. Catheter ablation is a treatment by which thin wires are passed into the heart via small puncture sites from the groin to “burn” areas in the heart which cause the rhythm disturbance. Results from ablation in patients who are identified early in the disease are good whilst those in advanced disease are less good.

Dr Tuan’s research focus was on identifying critical areas in the heart which may improve the results of ablation in patients with AF.

The title of his presentation at the competition was “Regional fractionation and dominant frequency in persistent Atrial Fibrillation: Effects of left atrial ablation and evidence of spatial relationship”. Using state-of-the-art 3-dimensional mapping system, he showed that there were distinct characteristics in different regions of the left atrium during AF which are not uniform and they respond differently to ablation. These data shed light on the complexity of electrical signals during AF and highlight the relevance of identifying locations with “signature” characteristics whereby burning at these areas would lead to an improved outcome from ablation.

Dr Ng leads a team of clinical and non-clinical researchers in active research programmes at the University of Leicester. His research focus is on cardiac arrhythmias and electrophysiology aimed at understanding the mechanisms underlying different types of heart rhythm disorders which occur in normal hearts and in heart diseases. Much development has occurred in these areas over the past decade and the availability of new data have significant implications in the training of medical students and clinical trainees. The research results also relate directly to improving management of patients with heart rhythm problems and help develop new and effective ways of treatment.

Three-dimensional mapping of the left atrium with analysis of signals obtained from specific sites over the surface to determine important electrogram characteristics. Dr G André Ng, who supervised Dr Tuan's work.

HEART RHYTHM UK

Heart Rhythm UK is the national affiliated group of the British Cardiovascular Society dealing with all aspects of cardiac arrhythmia care and electrical device based therapies. It was formed in 2005 by the amalgamation of the British Pacing and Electrophysiology Group (BPEG), the British Association of Arrhythmia Nurses (BANA) and the UK Interventional Electrophysiology Society (UKICES). It acts as a unifying focus for professionals involved in arrhythmia care and electrical therapies in the UK. The society has members drawn from several different professional bodies including Consultant Cardiologists, Cardiac Physiologists, Arrhythmia Nurses and trainees from each of these disciplines. All members are eligible to vote in elections to the Organising Council. The society has four main subgroups to focus and advance work in key professional areas:

• Interventional Electrophysiology

• Device Therapy

• Cardiac Physiologists

• Arrhythmia Nursing (and Allied Professions)

Heart Rhythm Congress

The Heart Rhythm Congress is an annual event which brings together all those with an interest in arrhythmias. It offers an educational opportunity for members of the medical, allied professional and industry communities to increase their own and others' knowledge of heart rhythm disorders, and does this in an open, interactive environment. The congress boasts a full programme of scientific sessions along with training courses, patient group conferences, live cases, industry sessions, a patients' day and DoH and PCT meetings, with a trade exhibition running throughout.

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