Atrial fibrillation is one of the most common causes of irregular heart rhythms. It's also a major cause of stroke. Doctors at the Avera Heart Hospital of South Dakota are using cutting edge technology to stop the arrhythmia.
Dr. Riyad Mohama with North Central Heart Institute performs cardiac catheter ablations in the cath lab at the Avera Heart Hospital in Sioux Falls. If you are one of the 160,000 people who were diagnosed with an irregular heart rhythm today, that is exciting news.
Dr. Mohama says, "Atrial fibrillation is an annoying rhythm but not everyone feels it. Generally, it's not a deadly rhythm but it can have serious consequences. It could cause clots that could cause stroke."
It could also cause symptoms like shortness of breath, in some cases passing out, as well as chest pain, lack of energy and palpitations. The conventional way to treat atrial fibrillation used to be medication but now Dr. Mohama says they can thread a special catheter directly to the area in the heart that triggers the arrhythmia and apply heat through radio frequency.
Dr. Mohama says, "The way to isolate them is to actually perform a scar around those openings in the top chamber of the heart by performing that type of ablation then a scar is formed. A barrier, if you will, between the inside part of those veins and heart that by itself seemed to help them (patients) in dealing with atrial fibrillation."
Which is exciting since this is now the first line of therapy. Medication second. Not the other way around and with much more success.
Not everyone with atrial fibrillation is a candidate for this procedure. Dr. Mohama says they have to be symptomatic, which means have the chest pain, palpitations, shortness of breath and fatigue.
Dr. Mohama also says hypertension, coronary disease, valve disease, sleep apnea and diabetes can cause atrial fibrillation.