JUL 02, 2018 5:16 AM PDT

AF Treatment Zaps Faulty Heart Tissue

WRITTEN BY: Kara Marker

Treating atrial fibrillation (AF), the most common type of arrhythmia, with what was previously a last-resort therapeutic approach will help reduce the risk of death and stroke in the long-run. From the University of California - Davis Health System, scientists show how cardiac ablation in addition to medication can be beneficial for AF patients.

Nearly three million Americans are living with atrial fibrillation (AF).

Catheter-based cardiac ablation is currently only recommended for when drugs prescribed to treat AF aren’t working or are poorly tolerated. Nearly three million Americans have AF, a condition where the heart beats irregularly when the upper chambers of the heart, the atria, quiver while sending blood into the lower chambers of the heart, the ventricles.

Patients with AF may experience lightheadedness, fatigue, shortness of breath, and chest pain, indicating their increased risk of blood clots, heart failure, stroke, and death. Drugs prescribed to treat AF control the heart rate and rhythm and minimize the risk of blood clot formation, but the new study shows that cardiac ablation may be beneficial in the early stages of the disease as well.

"Less than 2 percent of patients undergo ablation early in the course of [AF] when the procedure can be most beneficial," explained lead author Uma Srivatsa. "Our study shows that ablation may be considered as a primary treatment for everyone with the condition."

Cardiac ablation is a process where long, flexible tubes called catheters enter the body through a blood vessel in the groin and travel up to the heart to deliver their energy, in the form of either heat or extreme cold. This energy scars or destroys the heart tissue responsible for quivering in the atria. Conducting cardiac ablation with a catheter through a groin blood vessel makes a less invasive procedure than if it were done via open heart surgery.

In the past, studies of cardiac ablation showing that the procedure was not safe or beneficial enough to conduct in the early stages of AF produced inconsistent results. Additionally, after a closer look at their methodology, researchers found that many studies limited the diversity of their study subjects and conducted controversial data collection.

In contrast, the new study evaluates AF treatment outcomes over a long period of time, collecting data from a large population of multi-ethnic participants with similar health statuses, eliminate confounding variables. Researchers compared two study groups of four thousand diverse AF participants. One group was treated with ablation, and one was not. Other AF factors were nearly the same.

After 30 days, the group who received cardiac ablation were less likely to die and less likely to have a stroke.

The present study was published in the journal Circulation: Arrhythmia and Electrophysiology.

Sources: American Heart Association, Mayo Clinic, University of California - Davis Health System

About the Author
  • I am a scientific journalist and enthusiast, especially in the realm of biomedicine. I am passionate about conveying the truth in scientific phenomena and subsequently improving health and public awareness. Sometimes scientific research needs a translator to effectively communicate the scientific jargon present in significant findings. I plan to be that translating communicator, and I hope to decrease the spread of misrepresented scientific phenomena! Check out my science blog: ScienceKara.com.
You May Also Like
MAR 12, 2020
Cardiology
Skipping Breakfast Increases Risk for Heart Disease Death by 87%
MAR 12, 2020
Skipping Breakfast Increases Risk for Heart Disease Death by 87%
According to the old adage, ‘breakfast is the most important meal of the day’. But is that really so? Now, r ...
MAY 15, 2020
Technology
What is HARVEY?
MAY 15, 2020
What is HARVEY?
One of the biggest challenges facing clinical workers is trying to explore user interface treatment options easily witho ...
JUN 15, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
Revealing the Network of Neurons in the Heart
JUN 15, 2020
Revealing the Network of Neurons in the Heart
The autonomic nervous system is linked to the intrinsic cardiac nervous system (ICN), which is thought to help regulate ...
JUN 27, 2020
Cardiology
Automating the Analysis of the Circle of Willis to Determine Vascular Health
JUN 27, 2020
Automating the Analysis of the Circle of Willis to Determine Vascular Health
The Circle of Willis (CoW) is a vital part of the brain’s anatomy that acts as a junction of blood flow. It i ...
JUL 28, 2020
Cancer
Should you get your DNA test for community-based genetic screening?
JUL 28, 2020
Should you get your DNA test for community-based genetic screening?
In a new study published in the journal Nature Medicine, researchers champion the potential of community-based gene ...
AUG 01, 2020
Cardiology
A Breakthrough in Using Human Cells to 3D Print a Heart Pump
AUG 01, 2020
A Breakthrough in Using Human Cells to 3D Print a Heart Pump
This study has also demonstrated that there is a way to print heart muscle cells that causes them to organize and work i ...
Loading Comments...