Cardiologists at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak were the first in Michigan to use a new investigational laser device that may improve long-term effectiveness of ablation, a procedure for treating a common heart rhythm condition called atrial fibrillation.

Beaumont researchers are part of a national, Food and Drug Administration-approved trial studying the safety and effectiveness of the CardioFocus cardiac laser ablation device. The balloon catheter uses a rotating laser to burn heart tissue.

Said Ilana Kutinsky, D.O., electrophysiologist at Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak: “Ablation can be an effective treatment option for many patients with atrial fibrillation. What makes this new device so promising is its ability to allow doctors to directly visualize the heart to reduce the likelihood we’ll have to repeat the procedure. Traditional ablation does not provide visual guidance.“

A 68-year-old Clinton Township woman was the first patient to be treated with the device on June 29.

Catheter ablation is a minimally invasive procedure for treating heart rhythm disorders. Heat is used to destroy, or ablate, abnormal heart tissue with the goal of restoring a regular heartbeat. Compared to heart surgery, there are less risks to the patient and the recovery period is shorter.

Atrial fibrillation is the most common form of abnormal heart rhythm or arrhythmia. According to the American Heart Association, approximately 2.2 million Americans live with atrial fibrillation. It is known as a “silent killer” because it often goes unnoticed. During atrial fibrillation, the heart’s two small upper chambers quiver erratically instead of beating effectively. Blood isn’t pumped completely out of them, so it may pool and clot. If a blood clot leaves the heart and becomes lodged in an artery in the brain, a stroke results. If the clot impedes blood flow to the heart, a heart attack can occur. The Centers for Disease Control estimate that 15 to 20 percent of all strokes result from atrial fibrillation.

Traditionally, patients diagnosed with atrial fibrillation take blood-thinning medications to prevent blood clots from forming in the heart. Current blood-thinning medications require frequent monitoring and have diet and other drug interactions, causing many patients to discontinue them.

Beaumont is Michigan’s, and one of the nation’s, most experienced providers of heart care, ranking 21st on the U.S. News & World Report 2009 list of the “Top 50” hospitals for heart and heart surgery. The Beaumont Heart Center is a comprehensive institution dedicated to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of heart problems.

(c) 2010, WWJ Newsradio 950. All Rights Reserved.


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