Tag team for tickers. Hybrid help for AFib

It hit more than two million people in 2010 and it's expected to hit up to 12 million by 2050.

Atrial fibrillation can make your heart beat out of whack and can cause some serious health problems.

Now, doctors are doubling up to help patients beat it when other treatments can't do the job.

For years, Michael Link struggled to do all of this because of chronic atrial fibrillation.

"It limits what you can do physically," explains Michael Link who has chronic atrial fibrillation.

AFib is an abnormal heart rhythm that made him feel exhausted all the time. The condition can also lead to strokes. Surgery and medication did not help Michael.

"I was a hard case," says Michael.

So, he tried a new hybrid procedure called nContact. It's like two surgeries in one.

"It is a variant of open heart surgery,” explains V. Seenu Reddy, MD, a Cardiac Surgeon Centennial Medical Center. “We are operating on the beating heart."

First Doctor Seenu Reddy inserts a catheter under the diaphragm to get to the heart. Then he burns large areas on the exterior to stop the electrical signals that can trigger AFib.

Next, Doctor Gregory Bashian goes in with a smaller catheter to do the work that Reddy couldn't reach.

"Sharp shoot the gaps of certain places where his catheter can't get to from the outside of the heart but, mine can from the inside," says Gregory Bashian, MD, a Electro-Physiologist at the Centennial Medical Center.

The entire ablation procedure is done in about four hours without opening the chest. Now, Michael's heart is back to a normal rhythm and he's back to spending hours in the gym.

"You can get old and sit around or you can get old and exercise more," says Michael.

Candidates for nContact include patients whose chronic AFib continues while on medication or after having a catheter treatment.

Doctor Reddy says if you've had open heart procedures, like a bypass surgery, nContact is not right for you.


TOPIC: Tag team for tickers. Hybrid help for AFib
REPORT: MB # 3621

BACKGROUND: Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is a quivering or irregular heartbeat that can eventually lead to stroke, blood clots, heart failure, and other heart-related complications. Approximately 2.7 million Americans are suffering from AFib. A normal heart contracts and relaxes to a regular beat, but in AFib the upper chambers of the heart (the atria) beat irregularly (or quiver) instead of beating normally to move blood into the ventricles. Around 15 to 20 percent of people who have strokes have this heart arrhythmia. When blood is allowed to slow down or pool, it increases the risk of clotting and also increases the risk of stroke. According to the 2009 "Out of Sync" survey only 33 percent of AFib patients think it is a serious condition, even though it is called the most common "serious" heart rhythm abnormality in people over the age of 65. (Source: www.heart.org)

SYMPTOMS: Sometimes people with AFib do not have any symptoms and their condition is only detectable through a physical examination. However, others may experience: rapid and irregular heartbeat, dizziness, fluttering in the chest, weakness, shortness of breath and anxiety, faintness or confusion, sweating, chest pain or pressure, and fatigue when exercising. (Source: www.heart.org) Risk factors can include age, a family history, cardiovascular or lung disease, and chronic health conditions. Some lifestyle factors can increase the risk of AFib including stress, smoking, stimulant drugs like caffeine, and alcohol abuse. (Source: www.tristarcentennial.com)

NEW TECHNOLOGY: Most AFib patients can benefit from medication and ablation procedures to restore normal heart rhythm. However, some patients still experience AFib after an ablation or they can have a more persistent version of the disease. The nContact procedure is a new alternative treatment option. NContact is a new hybrid procedure for treating atrial fibrillation using surgical and minimally invasive therapies. Dr. Gregory Bashian with Centennial Medical Center was quoted as saying, "before nContact was available, AFib patients who needed additional treatment beyond an ablation, had to go through multiple procedures, taking a toll on their bodies and requiring a lot of their time for additional appointments and then recovery. Now, we are able to offer AFib patients an alternative that will return their heart to a regular rhythm in one overall procedure and even reduce their recovery time." The surgical procedure is performed first, followed by the ablation of the remaining areas of the left atrium. The benefits of this alternative treatment are the increase in safety, the increase in precision, and comprehensive assessment and diagnosis. Some patients experience greater quality outcomes and a shorter, less painful recovery. (Source: www.tristarcentennial.com)


Gregory Bashian, MD
Centennial Medical Center
(615) 515-1900

If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Andrew McIntosh at amcintosh@ivanhoe.com.

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