During the past few years, the development of effective, empirical technologies for treatment of cardiac arrhythmias has exceeded the pace at which detailed knowledge of the underlying biology has accumulated. As a result, although some clinical arrhythmias can be cured with techniques such as catheter ablation, drug treatment and prediction of the risk of sudden death remain fairly primitive. The identification of key candidate genes for monogenic arrhythmia syndromes shows that to bring basic biology to the clinic is a powerful approach. Increasingly sophisticated experimental models and methods of measurement, including stem cell-based models of human cardiac arrhythmias, are being deployed to study how perturbations in several biologic pathways can result in an arrhythmia-prone heart. The biology of arrhythmia is largely quantifiable, which allows for systematic analysis that could transform treatment strategies that are often still empirical into management based on molecular evidence.
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