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Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) Background

Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) Background

  • On the left is a heart with a normal heartbeat.
  • Electrical signals travel from the hearts pacemaker called an SA node across and down the heart muscle.
  • On the right, you can see the path of rapid and irregular electrical signals in the upper chambers of the heart.
  • These cause abnormal contractions and poor blood flow.
  • This is called Atrial Fibrillation or AFib for short. Learn more about Atrial Fibrillation here.
  • Everyone over 40 has a 1 in 4-lifetime risk; Afib affects a population of approximately 6 million in the US.
  • This condition increases stroke risk more than 4 times, which is the 5th leading cause of death in the U.S.
  • Catheter ablation is now a recommended procedure; depending on the severity of the disease, multiple procedures are oftentimes necessary for effective results.
  • Current technology in the electrophysiology lab has limitations in precisely locating the tissue to ablate that is the source of the abnormality.
  • What is atrial fibrillation?
Current Diagnosis to Treatment

Current Diagnosis to Treatment

  • The current treatment process starts with an Electrocardiogram taken from the surface of the skin.
  • Doctors read the results and determine if medication and/or ablation is indicated.
  • If ablation is indicated, an EP study is performed.
  • A catheter is inserted into the heart via the patients’ neck or groin and the electrical activity of the heart is recorded.
  • Based on this EP study, ablation is done in the area(s) of the heart they suspect is causing the abnormal heart rhythms.
Ablation: One Current Solution for Atrial Fibrillation (AFib)

Ablation: One Current Solution for Atrial Fibrillation (AFib)

  • The current most recommended solution for AFib is ablation.
  • An ablation catheter is inserted in the patient's blood vessel and guided to the site of the tissue that is causing the abnormal electrical current in the heart.
  • In the diagram on the left, you see the catheter entering from the bottom of the heart and winding into the left atrium.
  • In the diagram on the right, you see the catheter that is placed on the tissue that is triggering the abnormal electrical impulses.
  • The catheter will use either heat or cold to scar the tissue, reducing its ability to transmit abnormal electrical impulses which eliminate the abnormal heart rhythm.
Ventricular Tachycardia (VT)

Ventricular Tachycardia (VT)

  • On the left, we see a diagram of a heart with a normal heartbeat.
  • Electrical signals travel from the heart's pacemaker called an SA node across and down the heart muscle.
  • You can see the heartbeats are evenly spaced. On the right, we see that VT happens when the electrical signals in the ventricles, or lower chambers of the heart, get disorganized, overriding the heart's normal rate and rhythm.
  • This is rapidly fatal if not reversed; there are approximately 450,000 sudden deaths a year in the US from ventricular arrhythmias.
  • Like AFib, VT is also treated by using ablation to scar the areas of tissue sending the abnormal electrical impulses.
  • In determining where to ablate, doctors rely on looking for tiny changes on these charts that are often filtered out or get lost in the noise with current technologies. This results in more treatments being required until the appropriate areas are found and ablated.
  • Understanding VT Ablation