Dr. Kenneth Ellenbogen on Stroke Prevention Drugs and Fish Oil for Atrial Fibrillation — Video

By Mellanie True Hills

In this video, Dr. Kenneth Ellenbogen, of Virginia Commonwealth University, talked about some of the exciting things for afib patients being presented at the 2010 American Heart Association Scientific Sessions.

First, he talked about the presentation of the ROCKET AF clinical trial, which could provide a second new alternative to warfarin for afib stroke prevention, and would be another new drug that would not require monitoring and would not have food and drug interactions. He also talked about the newly-approved dabigatran (Pradaxa), which was the first alternative to warfarin.

He gave practical examples of ways that patients would benefit from these new alternatives to warfarin. For example, a patient having catheter ablation could start them immediately afterwards and not have to be “bridged” with Lovenox injections, which are required while warfarin kicks in over a few days. And for elective surgery, patients could stop the drug the day before and therefore not have to get bridged with Lovenox.

Second, he mentioned a randomized trial of Lovaza, prescription fish oil, which was tested against placebo and did not appear to be beneficial in preventing paroxysmal atrial fibrillation. It’s clear from this and other studies that fish oil doesn’t appear to prevent paroxysmal afib or post-operative afib.

As far as things on the horizon for afib patients, he mentioned the cryoballoon as another tool in the electrophysiologist’s toolbox, providing an alternative to radiofrequency ablation for those with paroxysmal afib.

His two big takeaways from the meeting were:

  1. Failure of “downstream therapies”, those not specifically directed at the cell membrane or ion channels—in this case fish oil—as they don’t appear in the short-term to have an impact on afib
  2. Excitement over new drugs to prevent stroke, particularly drugs that are as effective, or more so, than warfarin and with a decreased risk of intracranial hemorrhage (bleeding inside the head)

View the video (almost 7 minutes):

About Kenneth A. Ellenbogen, MD:

Cardiologist & Electrophysiologist
Chairman, Division of Cardiology
Pauley Heart Center
Virginia Commonwealth University
Richmond, VA

Director of Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology & Pacing
Medical College of Virginia & McGuire Veterans Administration Medical Center

Dr. Ellenbogen earned his M.D. from Johns Hopkins University, where he also did his internship and residency training in Internal Medicine. He received his Cardiology fellowship training at Duke University Medical Center.

Dr. Ellenbogen is a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology, the Council on Clinical Cardiology and the Council on Circulation. He has served as Chairman of the American Heart Association’s Committee on Electrocardiography and Arrhythmias, Education Committee of the Heart Rhythm Society, President of the Richmond American Heart Association and Director of the Cardiology Advisory Board for the entire V.A. medical system. He has served as a delegate to the American College of Cardiology, and steering committee member for two important NIH trials, AFFIRM and MOST. Dr. Ellenbogen currently serves on the Board of Trustees for the Heart Rhythm Society. In recognition of his outstanding achievements in clinical cardiology, Dr. Ellenbogen was named the MCV Campus Clinician of the Year for 2001.

Dr. Ellenbogen’s academic, clinical and research efforts include an interest in newer, more effective ways to perform ablation of atrial fibrillation. He is involved in the development of new types of pacemakers and exploring the role of pacemakers in treating congestive heart failure and atrial fibrillation.

Dr. Ellenbogen has served as principal investigator on 75 funded grants and contracts. He has published more than 150 original scientific reports and book chapters and has served as editor or co-editor of numerous books. He also has authored or co-authored more than 100 invited articles and literature reviews and more than 150 abstracts, either published or presented at professional conferences. Dr. Ellenbogen serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, American Journal of Cardiology, American Heart Journal, Circulation, the Journal of Cardiovascular Electrophysiology, Heart Rhythm and is one of the Senior Editors of PACE.

Dr. Ellenbogen also serves on the StopAfib.org Medical Advisory Board.

For more information about Dr. Ellenbogen, see:

Video Transcript Coming Soon