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Format: 04/17/2014
Format: 04/17/2014


WTAE-TV: Study finds procedure beats drugs for fast heartbeat

Friday, April 30th, 2010

For selected patients with an increasingly common heart-rhythm disorder, destroying the heart's faulty electrical pathways is far more effective than drugs, an international study shows. 


The disorder, atrial fibrillation, is an irregular, fast heartbeat that causes palpitations, breathlessness, and fatigue. It raises the risk of stroke, heart failure, and sudden death.



Anti-arrhythmic drugs are the first line of treatment, but they don't always work, or stop working, and have many side effects.



The new study, conducted at 19 medical centers including the University of Pennsylvania, was restricted to patients with relatively brief episodes of atrial fibrillation who had failed at least one drug treatment. The results can't be generalized to patients who have progressed to more persistent a-fib, the researchers conclude in today's Journal of the American Medical Association.



Nonetheless, they say that "catheter ablation" should be used "early" rather than as a last resort in patients with occasional a-fib. The procedure, guided by X-ray imaging, threads a flexible tubelike catheter through a blood vessel to deliver a burst of heat energy that destroys, or ablates, spots of defective heart tissue, thus creating scars that act like circuit breakers.


Allegheny General Cardiologis Dr. William Belden invited WTAE-Television into the operating room to watch this innovative procedure.  Please watch the story on our YouTube page: http://www.youtube.com/user/wpahs#p/c/877243FF7E90F88E/31/LLFkonBW174



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