SEATTLE, July 19, 2010 – Earlier this month, Swedish Heart & Vascular Institute (SHVI)-affiliated physicians Drs. David Gartman, a cardiothoracic surgeon, and Darryl Wells, an electrophysiologist, performed the first hybrid case for atrial fibrillation (AF) ever done west of the Mississippi. Their third case is slated to take place at Swedish/Cherry Hill on Aug. 11.
The hybrid procedure combines the benefits of both surgical and catheter-based ablation to treat patients with persistent and long-standing forms of AF. During back-to-back procedures done in the same operating room, the physicians used minimally invasive surgical ablation products (on the outside of the heart or epicardial) in conjunction with the Biosense Webster® THERMOCOOL® catheter ablation platform (on the inside of the heart or endocardial) to return the patient’s heart to a normal or ‘sinus’ rhythm.
“From a patient’s perspective there are numerous benefits to this hybrid procedure since it combines the effectiveness of both approaches – done in a minimally invasive fashion and during the same case – which amounts to an easier and quicker treatment, a two- to three-day hospital stay, and an expedited return to normal activities,” said Dr. Gartman. “And from a physician’s perspective there are numerous benefits to the approach including the direct visualization afforded a surgeon with the sophisticated mapping and electrical signal technology within the realm of a cardiac electrophysiologist.”
Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common type of arrhythmia or abnormal electrical activity in the heart. It occurs when the heart’s two small upper chambers (the atria) quiver – instead of beating rhythmically and effectively – and won’t fully contract (squeeze blood out of the heart completely). Some electrical signals go to the ventricles, which still pump out blood. But blood isn’t pumped completely out of them, so it may pool and clot. If a piece of a blood clot in the atria leaves the heart and becomes lodged in an artery in the brain, a stroke results.
According to the American Heart Association, an estimated 2.2 million Americans are living with AF and it’s the most common ‘serious’ heart rhythm abnormality in people over the age of 65.
The symptoms are multiple and vary by individual but include irregular heart pounding (palpitations), shortness of breath, dizziness, exercise intolerance and fatigue. In addition to these subjective symptoms, objectively 15 percent to 20 percent of all strokes occur in the setting of AF. Traditional treatments include antiarrythmic medications, electrical cardioversions, and more recently, catheter-based and minimally invasive surgical ablations that electrically address the critical structures for maintenance of the arrhythmia
“This hybrid procedure represents an important advancement in the arsenal to treat AF. It offers patients with persistent and long-lasting forms of AF another way to maintain normal sinus rhythm and likely the chance to stop having to take strong blood-thinning medications like Coumadin,” said Dr. Wells. It has the potential to revolutionize treatment strategies for this common but challenging problem.”
Established in 1910, Swedish has grown over the last 100 years to become the largest, most comprehensive non-profit health provider in the Greater Seattle area. It is comprised of three hospital campuses – First Hill, Cherry Hill and Ballard – a freestanding emergency department and ambulatory care center in Issaquah, Swedish Visiting Nurse Services, and the Swedish Physician Division – a network of more than 40 primary-care and specialty clinics located throughout the Puget Sound area. In fall 2009, Swedish broke ground on a new medical office building and hospital in the Issaquah Highlands, as well as an emergency department and medical office building in Ballard. More recently, Swedish announced plans to open freestanding emergency department and ambulatory care center facilities in Mill Creek and Redmond. In addition to general medical and surgical care, Swedish is known as a regional referral center, providing specialized treatment in areas such as cardiovascular care, cancer care, neuroscience, orthopedics, high-risk obstetrics, pediatric specialties, organ transplantation and clinical research. For more information, visit www.swedish.org and www.swedish100.org.
About Swedish Heart & Vascular Institute
The Swedish Heart & Vascular Institute is a regional network of physicians at hospitals and clinics across the Puget-Sound area. It offers a broad spectrum of adult and pediatric cardiovascular-care services – from surgical and interventional procedures to the latest advances in heart-disease prevention, diagnosis and cardiovascular health and wellness. The institute includes more than 20 member clinics and four medical-center affiliates, including Swedish’s Cherry Hill and First Hill campuses in Seattle; Stevens Hospital in Edmonds; Highline Medical Center in Burien, and Valley Medical Center in Renton. In addition, the Institute focuses on research and education as fundamental tools in fighting heart disease. For more information, visit www.swedish.org
- To read a related article posted Aug. 17 on The Issaquah Press Web site, click here.
- Swedish’s first hybrid AF patient, who lives in Issaquah, has agreed to be interviewed by media outlets interested in his perspective about this new procedure.
- Swedish videotaped its second hybrid AF case, which took place June 28. Media interested in obtaining that HD footage simply need to contact (206-998-5028; email@example.com) so he can courier a DVD to the reporter/outlet.