Cardiac arrhythmia, an irregular heartbeat, affects approximately 5% of the U.S. population. Arrhythmia is one of the leading causes of stroke, heart failure and sudden death. Irregular heartbeats can cause the heart to beat either too fast or too slow. When that happens, the heart cannot pump enough blood throughout the body. When cardiac arrhythmias go untreated, they often damage the heart, brain and other major organs. One of the most common forms of arrhythmia is A-fib (atrial fibrillation).
Experts at Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare completed the first procedure in Tennessee using the newest ablation technology to treat people with atrial fibrillation. Ablation creates small burns or freezes that cause scarring inside the heart. The scarring helps to block irregular electrical signals causing abnormal heartbeats.
DiamondTemp™, The Newest Approach for Ablation
The first FDA-approved, temperature-controlled, irrigated radio frequency catheter ablation system is called DiamondTemp™ . Yehoshua Levine, MD, a cardiac electrophysiologist at Methodist, discusses this new technology and how it makes a difference in minimally invasive approaches to treating arrhythmia conditions.
Surgeons have several treatment approaches for arrhythmia, including medication, cardioversion (a medical procedure to convert arrhythmia to a normal rhythm using electricity or medicine), catheter (small, flexible tube) procedures and heart surgery. Today at Methodist, interventional cardiologists use the latest minimally invasive treatment, DiamondTemp ablation.
“Technology continues to maximize patient safety and effectiveness, and the newest treatment approach for an abnormal heartbeat is an example of how technology evolves,” says Dr. Levine.
As the first healthcare system in Tennessee, Dr. Levine says, “We’re fortunate to be able to help fix abnormal heartbeats using a minimally invasive approach.”
“It’s hard to know exactly how hot we need to make heart tissue to successfully and safely destroy an abnormal heartbeat,” says Dr. Levine. “This newer technology measures the heart tissue temperature and provides energy to destroy short circuits in people’s hearts. We can then make sure the tissue is getting hot enough, but not too hot, to destroy the abnormal heartbeat embedded inside the walls of the heart.”
What are the benefits of DiamondTemp™ ablation?
This new ablation technology has many benefits, including a quicker procedure time and faster recovery. In addition, Dr. Levine says they can offer this minimally invasive procedure instead of open surgery that uses cutting and stitches and requires significant recovery and hospital time.
Ablation uses a tiny catheter (a tube the size of the tip of a pen) guided from the upper leg into the heart to short-circuit the area causing the abnormal heartbeat. Afterward, patients only have a very tiny scar and face an easier recovery. The procedure takes about two hours, and individuals go home the same day.
Atrial fibrillation is an abnormal heartbeat that tends to arise from the top chambers of a person’s heart. Patients are usually on medication to help manage symptoms. However, they often go to the emergency room multiple times a year for atrial fibrillation side effects. Now, it takes a single two-hour procedure to treat that person and potentially fix their condition.
Understanding Irregular Heartbeats
An irregular heartbeat occurs when there is a problem with the speed or rhythm of your heartbeat. It could be that your heart beats too quickly or too slowly or has an irregular beat. A heart that beats too fast is called tachycardia; when it beats too slow, it is called bradycardia.
What causes an irregular heartbeat?
An irregular heartbeat can result from a valve disorder, cardiomyopathy (heart muscle disease), or coronary artery disease. Other heart rhythm conditions can result from a heart attack or congenital heart defect. Even smoking and stress can affect the heart’s rhythm.
What are the symptoms of an irregular heartbeat?
Sometimes an arrhythmia may not show any symptoms. However, a medical provider can detect an irregular heartbeat during a physical by taking your pulse, listening to your heart or performing a diagnostic test. The most common symptoms of arrhythmias include:
- Fast or slow heartbeat
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Pounding chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Skipping beats
- Weakness and fatigue
At Methodist, we’re committed to helping those with heart problems live healthy lives. If you experience an irregular heartbeat, help is right here, close to home. Talk to your provider about how you can manage your heart condition and whether the new DiamondTemp™ ablation procedure is right for you.
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