Tag Team For Tickers! Hybrid Help For AFib

Tag Team For Tickers! Hybrid Help For AFib

CREATED May 31, 2013

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- It hit more than two million people in 2010 and it's expected to hit up to twelve million by 2050. Atrial fibrillation can make your heart beat out of whack and can cause some serious health problems. Now, doctors are doubling up to help patients beat it when other treatments can't do the job.

For years, Michael Link struggled to go to the gym because of chronic atrial fibrillation.

"It limits what you can do physically," Michael Link told Ivanhoe.

AFib is an abnormal heart rhythm that made him feel exhausted all the time. The condition can also lead to strokes. Surgery and medication did not help Michael. 

"I was a hard case," Michael said.

So, he tried a new hybrid procedure called nContact. It's like two surgeries in one! 

"It is a variant of open heart surgery. We are operating on the beating heart," V. Seenu Reddy, MD, MBA FACS, Cardiac Surgeon at Centennial Medical Center, told Ivanhoe.

First, Dr. Reddy inserts a catheter under the diaphragm to get to the heart. Then, he burns large areas on the exterior to stop the electrical signals that can trigger AFib.

"We're delivering energy to the heart," Dr. Reddy said.

Next, Dr. Gregory Bashian goes in with a smaller catheter to do the work that Dr. Reddy couldn't reach.

"Sharp shoot the gaps of certain places where his catheter can't get to from the outside of the heart, but mine can from the inside," Gregory Bashian, MD, Electrophysiologist at Centennial Medical Center, told Ivanhoe.

The entire ablation procedure is done in about four hours without opening the chest.

Today, Michael's heart is back to a normal rhythm and he's back to spending hours in the gym.

"You can get old and sit around or you can get old and exercise more," Michael said.

Candidates for nContact include patients whose chronic AFib continues while on medication or after having a catheter treatment. Dr. Reddy says if you've had open heart procedures, like a bypass surgery, nContact is not right for you.