Many treatments provide long-term solutions for heart rhythm disorders. Here you can learn more about the treatments available at Swedish.
In the video below, Dr. Darryl Wells of the Swedish Heart and Vascular Institute talks about traditional indications for catheter ablation and the new guidelines for front line treatment of atrial fibrillation with catheter ablation.
Atrial fibrillation ablation
This technique is a descendant of the surgical Cox-Maze procedure, which involves extensive incisions and suturing of the atria (upper heart chambers) to treat atrial fibrillation (rapid and disorganized heartbeat). In many patients with atrial fibrillation, creating targeted lesions within the left atrium interrupts the electrical impulses that are causing the problem. Radiofrequency ablation is the most common approach and is used to create a specific set of lesions for this procedure.
In catheter ablation, no incisions are necessary as the procedure uses variants of IVs in the groin. Physicians guide a catheter with an electrode at the tip into the heart. The electrode helps pinpoint the site of the electrical problem. Radiofrequency energy is then used to ablate cardiac tissue contributing to the arrhythmia enabling a return to normal sinus rhythm.
In the video below, Dr. Darryl Wells discusses catheter ablation.
Cryoablation uses very cold temperatures to create lesions within the heart. It is often used as part of balloon delivery system to treat paroxysmal atrial fibrillation. It also has a role in pediatric populations.
Pacemakers and Defibrillators
A battery-powered cardiac pacemaker is surgically implanted under a patient’s skin to correct electrical abnormalities that result in a slow heart rate (called bradycardia, where your heart beats at less than 60 beats per minute). The device has two or three wires that are positioned in the heart to help it beat in a more balanced way. If the patient’s heart rate tries to drop below the rate programmed by his or her physician, the pacemaker generates electrical impulses that pass through the wires to the heart muscle. These impulses make the upper and/or lower chambers of the heart beat to keep the pulse rate from slowing.
Implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICD)
An implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD), like a pacemaker, is placed below the skin and connected to the heart with electrodes. In contrast to a pacemaker, which corrects a slow heart rate, an ICD uses either very rapid pacing or an internal electrical shock to slow down a fast heart rate (ventricular tachycardia or ventricular fibrillation as common examples). ICDs also incorporate pacemaker functions for those patients who require both.
Biventricular pacemaker and defibrillators
With heart failure, the heart’s ability to pump is weaker than normal and problems can develop in the ventricles (lower chambers) of the heart. A delay between the contraction of the right ventricle and the left ventricle often occurs. When this happens, the walls of the left ventricle are unable to contract at the same time. A biventricular device (CRT-P /D), which is designed to treat the delay in heart-ventricle contractions, can be used as a treatment option. This new therapy has been shown to improve symptoms of heart failure, such as fatigue, shortness of breath and exercise intolerance.
Cardiac Electrophysiology550 17th Avenue, Ste 680
Cherry Hill Campus
Seattle, WA 98122
Phone: 206-861-8550 or 206-215-4545
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