Interview with Emma Svennberg - Karolinska Institutet


Please tell us a bit about yourself and your research in atrial fibrillation.

When I did my residency in Internal Medicine, I had a long clinical rotation on a stroke unit. During this rotation I noticed that many of the patients had new or undertreated atrial fibrillation, and this sparked my research interest in atrial fibrillation. This led me into my research field of screening for atrial fibrillation to try and prevent stroke. We have performed two large studies on screening for atrial fibrillation called STROKESTOP I & II, showing that we can detect atrial fibrillation in an elderly population, and that systematic screening leads to a (small) clinical benefit.

 Please tell us more about your organization Karolinska Institutet.           

I am very fortunate to be working at Karolinska University Hospital, as an electrophysiologist, where I see patients with atrial fibrillation everyday. My hospital is closely affiliated with Karolinska Institutet, a great medical university, so when I get a research idea from my clinical work, we have all the research means to study it.             

What is your role in the project?             

In EHRA-PATHS Karolinska has been developing paths for recognition of renal failure as a co-morbidity, and I am now actively engaged in the clinical trial as PI for Sweden.

When did you get involved in EHRA-PATHS?       

I got involved as I believe in the importance of co-morbidities in patients with atrial fibrillation. Many co-morbidities remain unrecognised, and several are undertreated. In EHRA-PATHS we can show a way forward in recognition and treatment initiation of co-morbidities. In addition, the leadership of EHRA-PATHs is excellent, so I felt certain that this project would follow its path!

Can you describe how your work is related to EHRA-PATHS?       

In my everyday work I see a lot of patients with atrial fibrillation, and although I mainly meet selected patients that are planned for a catheter ablation, they have a lot of co-morbidities that are not always well managed.

How can EHRA-PATHS contribute to early detection of the disease and the prevention of strokes?

For me EHRA-PATHS can contribute to early detection of co-morbidities, and when we manage these, there will likely be a beneficial effect on cardiovascular outcomes.               

What has been the most successful part of your work in EHRA-PATHS?

I have learned a lot working with world-renowned experts in the field of atrial fibrillation – and I have learned and continue to learn about efficient recognition of co-morbidities.

What are the main challenges in your work in EHRA-PATHS?

My coming challenge will be to inspire and engage the Swedish centra in the clinical trial. This is an essential part of the coming clinical trial.

What are the still unknown research questions in atrial fibrillation and stroke prevention?

There are so many, but for me one of my interests at the moment is the amount of atrial fibrillation required for it to lead to an increased risk in stroke,  and digital management of risk factors to impact atrial fibrillation outcomes, and early recognition of atrial fibrillation using machine learning learning. There is still so much to do!

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