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Advances in health and medicine.
Marjorie Bekaert Thomas
Advances in health and medicine.
Cardiovascular Health Channel
Reported May 27, 2013

Tag Team for Tickers! Hybrid Help for AFib -- Research Summary

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:

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: 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:

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:   MORE.

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