New technique used to help heart patients
Doctors use 3-D technology to help atrial fibrillation patients.
BACKGROUND: Atrial fibrillation (AF or afib) is the most common type of arrhythmia. An arrhythmia is a problem with the rate or rhythm of the heartbeat. During an arrhythmia, the heart can beat too fast, too slow, or with an irregular rhythm. Millions of people are affected by AF, and the number is steadily rising. Men are more likely than women to have the condition. In the United States, AF is more common among Whites than African Americans or Hispanic Americans. The risk of AF increases as you age. It is uncommon in children. However, about half of the people who have AF are younger than 75. People who have AF but don't have symptoms or related heart problems may not need treatment. AF may even go back to a normal heart rhythm on its own. (SOURCE: www.nhlbi.nih.gov)
CAUSE:Atrial fibrillation is due to a malfunction in the heart's electrical system. It occurs when the electrical signals don't travel through the heart in a normal way. Damage to the heart's electrical system is most often the result of other conditions that affect the health of the heart, such as high blood pressure and coronary heart disease (CHD). (SOURCE: www.nhlbi.nih.gov, www.stopafib.org)
SYMPTOMS:Symptoms vary from patient to patient. Some patients describe AF as feeling like skipped heartbeats, followed by a thud and a speeding up or racing of the heart. Other symptoms may include: shortness of breath, weakness or problems exercising, chest pain, dizziness or fainting, fatigue, and confusion. (SOURCE: (www.nhlbi.nih.gov, www.stopafib.org)
TREATMENT:Treatment for AF depends on how often the patient has had the symptoms, how severe they are, and whether they already have heart disease. General treatment options include medicines, medical procedures, and lifestyle changes. Doctors may consider performing a Cardioversion. Cardioversion is when the doctor places paddles or patches on the chest to electrically shock the heart to restore normal rhythm.
(SOURCE: www.nhlbi.nih.gov, www.mayoclinic.org)
3-D IN THE OR:Catheter ablation may be used to restore a normal heart rhythm if medicines or electrical cardioversion don't work. Because of the shortcomings of fluoroscopy, some electrophysiologists use electroanatomic mapping systems, which provide colorful 3-D images that show variations in a patient's anatomy. These systems may assist doctors in assuring that lesions are contiguous and in reducing complications, such as perforation of the heart or esophagus. In addition, the use of an electroanatomic mapping system may lessen the time that doctors and patients are exposed to radiation. Electrophysiologists create a real time 3-D view of the heart by positioning a mapping catheter in the heart. When the doctor moves the catheter in a sweeping motion, the systems track the catheter's location. (Source: www.Stopafib.org)
FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:
Barbara Ferreira, ARNP
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