We study the molecular, cellular, organ, and system level interaction between fat and the heart to elucidate how obesity promotes cardiovascular diseases including arrhythmias.
Thanks to major advances in medicine and biomedical innovations there had been a steady decline in cardiovascular deaths over the last century. However, over the last decade, heart disease has regained its status as the leading cause of death in the US, which has coincided with the growing epidemic of obesity, a complex and multifactorial disease interconnected with metabolic syndrome (high blood pressure, insulin resistance, and high cholesterol).
Obesity poses a significant health care burden with rising morbidity and mortality associated with increased risk of heart failure and/or sudden cardiac death linked to cardiac arrhythmias such as ventricular tachycardia (VT) and ventricular fibrillation (VF). While obesity is an established cardiovascular risk factor, there exists a seemingly counterintuitive phenomenon called the “obesity paradox” associated with survival advantage in the obese patients as compared with normal weight individuals in multiple settings of heart failure, acute coronary syndrome, among others.
The pathological mechanisms by which cardiac obesity could result in the development of cardiac arrhythmias, while also under certain conditions potentially provide cardioprotection is not well understood.
Our lab focuses on investigating the dynamic interplay between the fat and the heart (as well as the brain and the gut) in promoting cardiac arrhythmias. We take a unique approach to investigating acute and chronic effects of cardiac obesity on arrhythmogenesis by combining small and large animal model studies with donor human hearts, which provides an optimal balance between basic research and direct clinical impact.
Using spatiotemporal multi pronged (integrated omics, functional and structural imaging) and multi scale (molecule to whole heart and systems) approach, we seek to characterize the role of obesity and metabolic syndrome in promoting arrhythmias as well as develop and validate novel diagnostic tools and strategies for effective therapy of obesity mediated cardiac conduction and rhythm disorders.