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Published: 2022-02-01

Women's hearts in focus for research

PROFILE Sofia Erelund, a doctoral student at the Department of Surgical and Perioperative Sciences, has just held her Mitt Seminar, with the goal of defending her dissertation 2023–2024. Sofia has a combined job in clinical microbiology, but is also a university lecturer with teaching at BMA. 1 day a week she works clinically at Clinical Physiology, at the arrhythmia unit.

Text: Heléne Andersson
Image: Anna Olsson

- You just had your Mittseminarie, tell me how it felt?

- Nervous. You start to doubt yourself, but once I was there it was a good atmosphere. It was a good conversation and I was advised to focus on the studies where we performed HRV on two different patient groups (RA and Women with ischemic heart disease) and to possibly do a study with where we will examine HRV in post-covid patients in the dissertation. So it was good, says Sofia.

- Your research, tell us more about it.

- I am a biomedical analyst with a focus on clinical physiology in principle, so for us it is mainly the methods and examinations themselves that are our "main subject". In the first research plan, the idea was that I would take part in a research material that they did 20 years ago, which was intended as a normal material for clinical physiological examinations. Per Lindqvist has defended his dissertation on some of the material, says Sofia.

Sofia says that there was raw data about spirometries, resting ECG, long-term ECG that has not yet been analyzed in the material and that this is where she started.

- We wanted to see what it looks like in a subjectively healthy population, says Sofia.

In Study 1, they began to interpret ECGs, where it was found that 30% had abnormalities. Then they chose to compare their data with other normal data.

In study 2, they also compared their data with similar materials, including the OLIN studies. This time they looked at the spirometries, the lung function, in mainly women in northern Sweden.

- Our findings were similar to theirs, says Sofia. In our study, we were able to verify the results from the OLIN studies and also present our own model regarding age dependence in lung function tests in a northern population. We could also conclude that the reference materials used today should be reviewed and can be improved for the Swedish population in the age range 20–90 years.

Right now, the research focuses on HRV, heart rate variability, where they have chosen to work with a patient group with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). This study was also started 20 years ago, but the HRV data and what HRV looks like in patients with RA have not been analyzed.

- There has been an increased risk that people with RA can die of cardiovascular disease, says Sofia.

In parallel, they are also looking at a study on Women's Hearts, in which women who had had a heart attack or ischemic heart disease were divided into two groups. One group received conventional cardiac care help and the other received CBT / stress management for 1 year. Now they want to see what happened and if there is any difference.

In the end, the whole body works as one unit

Much of the research has been material from 20 years back in time. But also current topics can be interesting in the research and the forthcoming dissertation.

- I have been asked to do HRV on post-covid patients. HRV is based on the autonomic nervous system, it includes from head to toe how the body is controlled. Very interesting to see, because in the end the whole body works as one unit, says Sofia.

- What was it that made you get interested in research?

In part, it was an old colleague, Rolf Hörnsten, who was on me because my c essay was also rooted in the raw material. He encouraged me to study for a master's degree, says Sofia.

The education did not take place in Umeå, but at Karolinska Institutet. Then Sofia was accepted as a doctoral student. A while ago, she removed an acoustic neuroma that caused her to lose her hearing in one ear.

- Since I became deaf in one ear, it has been nice to be able to combine clinic with research. I have more energy when you get to vary, says Sofia.

I want to continue in education and research

Sofia's research group today includes her main supervisor Urban Wiklund, assistant supervisor Bengt Johansson, Sandra Arvidsson and a new associate professor from Radiation Sciences named Nina Sundström.

- Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
- I hope that I can continue to have a combination position, with getting a lectureship after dissertation, and have my own doctoral students. I want to continue in education and research. I want to be involved in shaping our new biomedical analysts that we release into healthcare, it feels great, says Sofia.

When she is not working and researching, a lot of time is spent with the family, her husband, their two children and their leisure activities.

- Both me and my husband are active in association life, it is fun but takes a lot of time, says Sofia.

Another major interest is gardening and cultivation.
- I love to work in the garden and the greenhouse.

In addition to growing vegetables and grapes, Sofia likes flowers and creating space in the garden. Last summer, the family also tested having so-called "corona hens".

- But they had to move to a farm. The hens engaged the whole neighborhood who called and told us where the hens where, Sofia laughs.

When the pandemic is over, Sofia dreams of traveling again. One vision is to take the children to all the capitals of Europe during their upbringing. Otherwise, both the Maldives and Mauritzius attract.

- You have to dream, says Sofia.

Short facts Sofia Erelund

Name: Sofia Erelund

Title: Biomedical analyst and University lecturer

Family: Husband and two kids, 9 and 12 years old.

Currently reading: Mari Jungstedt "Den man älskar" (Went around to flea markets this summer to collect the whole series)

Listen to: Pretty much everything, but mostly Lars Winnerbäck, Eldkvarn, Peter Lemarc. Podd: Hälsorevolutionen.

Favourite movie: Pretty Woman