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Atrial fibrillation is a heart disorder that causes the upper chambers of the heart to spasm instead of beating regularly. While that sounds dangerous, the lack of a regular heartbeat itself isn’t dangerous.
Instead, a-fib causes lots of indirect problems that can be debilitating or fatal. We’re making progress in understanding the disease, as evidenced by two new papers that identify a total of 18 genes that predispose people to a-fib.
That should be exciting news.

And it should be especially exciting to me, since I could have easily contributed to that study—as one of its subjects.
I have a-fib, which I seem to have inherited from my mother.
Getting a better understanding of a disease can open all sorts of possibilities for better treatments, even ones tailored to your own particular genetics.

But that’s not really the case with a-fib, and it provides a great example of how science can sometimes run up against limits even as it successfully increases our knowledge.
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