Patients at Florida Hospital Waterman now have access to a new treatment option for atrial fibrillation, the most common cause of irregular heartbeat.
"Atrial fibrillation ablation is a minimally invasive technique that uses catheters to go directly to the source of the irregular rhythm, and destroy the cells associated with it," said Jorge O. Diaz, M.D., electrophysiologist. "The procedure yields exceptional results for patients, and can greatly enhance their quality of life."
During atrial fibrillation, the heart beats at an irregular and often rapid pace. Electrical impulses cause the heart's upper chambers, or atria, to quiver rather than contract resulting in the upper chambers of the heart being out of synch with the lower chambers. This disruption can result in poor blood flow and, if left untreated, can lead to stroke or heart failure.
The atrial fibrillation ablation procedure involves inserting a specially designed catheter through a vein in the leg up to the heart where it is positioned at the source of the abnormal rhythm. Once in position, the tip of the catheter delivers either high frequency, also called radio frequency, energy to the site or freezes the area causing the irregularity. According to Diaz, once the procedure is complete, most patients are able to leave the hospital within 24 hours and return to a normal life in a week or two.
Diaz and Giancarlo Speziani, M.D., electrophysiologist, performed the first atrial fibrillation ablations at Florida Hospital Waterman in July. Nationally, the procedure has proven to be between 80 and 85 percent effective at treating the heart rhythm disorder that impacts more than two million Americans.
"Implementing new procedures like atrial fibrillation ablation gives us a tremendous amount of satisfaction," Dr. Diaz said. "With ablation, we're able to treat a very complex cardiac problem with sophisticated technology and minimal intervention."