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Afib patient benefits from new technology

Gene Goldsworth noticed he was running out of breath each time he climbed the three flights of stairs to his apartment. “I was gassed,” he explained. Gene was diagnosed with an irregular heart rhythm known as atrial fibrillation, which was preventing his heart from effectively circulating blood through his body. But after a minimally invasive procedure using a new technology, he was feeling well enough to return to the gym just six weeks later.

Thomas P. Carrigan, MD, an electrophysiologist with St. Elizabeth Heart & Vascular Institute, performed the procedure, called a cardiac ablation, utilizing one of the newest technologies being used for this procedure, a Thermocool SmartTouch catheter. Gene was the first patient in the region to benefit from this new technology.

An electrophysiologist is a physician who specializes in the electrical system of the heart, the system that manages our heartbeats. Electrophysiologists utilize cardiac ablation to stop an irregular heartbeat and in many cases permanently restore the heart to a normal rhythm. Cardiac ablation is a minimally invasive procedure that applies heat energy inside the heart to change how electrical impulses are transmitted.

During a minimally invasive ablation procedure, doctors insert a thin tube called a catheter through a small incision in the groin, which is weaved up to the heart through a blood vessel. Once it reaches the left upper chamber of the heart (atrium), the catheter delivers energy to the heart wall to create lesions that block faulty electrical impulses that can cause heart rhythm disorders. This newest technology, the SmartTouch catheter, allows the physician to know how much pressure is being applied to the heart wall, which can improve the effectiveness of the procedure.

“Dr. Carrigan told me I was the first in the region to receive this new technology. This (use of new technology) says a lot about him and about the hospital, with St. E’s being part of Mayo and investing in new technology.”   St. Elizabeth is the only hospital in Greater Cincinnati utilizing this newest advancement.

Dr. Carrigan says the new technology can improve outcomes and safety: “Clinical studies demonstrate single procedure success rates of 88 percent in appropriately selected patients. With this advance in technology we can improve effectiveness while simultaneously minimizing risk.”

As he considered his options, Gene said, “I wanted to get back to some degree of normalcy, and with the afib I was not feeling that. I decided if this will help, then I’m all for it.” Today he is enjoying that normalcy, with a much easier time walking up the stairs to his apartment, and a couple of trips to the gym each week.

For more information about St. Elizabeth Heart & Vascular Institute Arrhythmia Center, click here.

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