May 15, 2009

New Drug Alternative Improves Treatment of Heart Disorder

 A new innovative approach to treating atrial fibrillation (A-Fib) is showing improved results over the common drug treatment.

Over 2 million Americans suffer from A-fib, a disorder which in which the heart beats irregularly due to quivering in the upper chambers of the heart. Clots form when not all of the blood is able to be pumped out, which may also lead to strokes and heart failure.

While drugs may be able to slow the heart rate or assist in maintaining the rhythm, in the study of 167 patients, only 17 percent of those treated with drugs ceased to experience A-fib's symptoms. Symptoms include heart palpitations, dizziness, fatigue, and shortness of breath. Catheter ablation, an alternative treatment, succeeded in curing 63 percent of patients of all symptoms.

Catheter ablation destroys the small area of heart tissue which instigates the disruption of the heart rhythm. A thin flexible tube called a catheter contains a small tip, emitting radio frequency to burn the selected heart tissue. A future study is planned to determine if ablation patients will outlive those treated with medication.


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