A minimally invasive approach to curing the most common heart rhythm abnormality, atrial fibrillation, takes half the time of the traditional surgical procedure but is equally effective, according to research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
Results from the first reported clinical trial testing the procedure appear in the October issue of The Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery. "Our findings show that this technique is much easier to perform but works just as well as the more invasive approach," says principal investigator Ralph J. Damiano, M.D., the John Shoenberg Professor of Surgery and chief of cardiac surgery at the School of Medicine, and a cardiac surgeon at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. "This is very good news because it means more surgeons can perform the procedure and it will be applicable to virtually all patients with this irregular rhythm."
Atrial fibrillation affects more than two million Americans. Normally, electric signals trigger the synchronized contraction of muscles in the hearts two upper chambers, the atria. During atrial fibrillation, a chaotic web of electric impulses spreads throughout the atria, causing the chambers to quiver rather than contract in unison. The result is a host of painful symptoms and significantly increased risk of heart attack or stroke. In fact, atrial fibrillation accounts for about 15 percent of all strokes in the United States.
Gila Z. Reckess | EurekAlert!
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