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Dr Karina Bunting
Dr Karina Bunting.

Dr Karina Bunting, British Heart Foundation Fellow at the University of Birmingham’s Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences (ICVS), has been awarded a £243,000 Career Development Fellowship to determine whether a new method of measuring heart function in patients with atrial fibrillation improves accuracy and better predicts future health problems.

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a common condition that can cause a decline in heart function. An ultrasound scan of the heart (echocardiogram) is used to assess heart function, but this is difficult in patients with AF as the measurements vary between heartbeats, making it unclear for doctors to decide what treatment is needed. If the heart function assessment is inaccurate not only does it lead to unnecessary delays but also may lead to incorrect treatment worsening patients' well-being.

Funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) for four years and in collaboration with Dr Richard Steeds, Honorary Reader in the ICVS and Consultant Cardiologist in Cardiovascular Imaging at University Hospitals Birmingham, and Professor Dipak Kotecha, Professor of Cardiology in the ICVS, Dr Bunting will determine whether the index-beat approach, taking measurements of heart function after heartbeats of similar length, is more accurate than the usual method of averaging multiple heartbeats. More accurate asssessment of heart function in patients with AF could lead to fewer patients needing hospital care, better prediction of future health problems and improve the wellbeing of patients.