A New Tool For Offbeat Hearts

Photo credit: Michela / flickr

When the heart quivers, you could be suffering from an ailment more serious than love sickness. But a new tool coming to Philadelphia today could help to mend the organ.

Atrial fibrillation, or AFib, is one of the most prevalent heart rhythm disorders and the leading cause of stroke among those who are 65 and older. During AFib, the upper chambers of the heart beat chaotically out of synch with the ventricles, which doubles the risk of heart-related death.

Ablation is often an option to treat an irregular heartbeat. Cardiologists insert a catheter through a vein in a patient’s leg and guide it into the heart to spot where the dangerous arrhythmia originates. Once the arrhythmia is located, the doctors burn (or ablate) the tissue inside the heart, where the irregular beats are triggered.

Though the technique can be lifesaving, it is complex and time consuming, according to Heath Saltzman, MD, an assistant professor in the Division of Cardiology at Drexel University College of Medicine.

“If you do not have good tissue contact, the lesion or burn may not be sufficient. If you push too hard, there is risk of heart damage,” Saltzman said.

Today, Saltzman will be the first cardiologist in Philadelphia to use a new type of catheter intended to improve patient outcomes. The device, developed by Biosense Webster, Inc., has an irrigated, porous tip. This allows cardiologists to use less fluid during the procedure and to more accurately determine contact with the troublesome areas of the heart.

In clinical trials, the new catheter has been shown to reduce overall procedure time, limit radiation exposure to patients and improve efficacy, according Biosense Webster.

Saltzman said he is proud that Drexel Cardiology will be the first health practice in the region to offer the procedure and is hopeful that it will put patients’ hearts back in synch.

For media inquiries, contact Lauren Ingeno at lingeno@drexel.edu or 215.895.2614. To schedule an appointment with a Drexel cardiac electrophysiologist, please call 215.762.3457.

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