These New Technologies Will Change How You Manage Your Atrial Fibrillation

  • Atrial fibrillation is often a confusing condition, with mildly uncomfortable symptoms, and symptoms that come and go. Atrial fibrillation is characterized by an irregular and often rapid heart rate that causes poor blood flow to the rest of the body. Recently, atrial fibrillation has been linked to silent strokes, so it’s essential that you know all your options of managing this condition. Thankfully, new developing technology shows promise in better management of this condition as well as coming closer to treatment that will cure it completely.

     

    Real time monitoring of vitals

     

    Most people get their vitals checked about once a year, during their annual check-up but for people with hard to detect conditions like atrial fibrillation, this might not be enough. The quality of healthcare, especially in managing conditions like atrial fibrillation could vastly improve with more timely care. A new device that is placed under the skin could play a key role in timely care. This device that was presented at the Forbes Healthcare Summit would be able to remotely monitor people’s heart rhythms and transfer their data to their doctor’s computer, in real time. If something abnormal was detected, the doctor would get an alert, allowing doctors to see trends and better diagnose and treat patients.

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    Targeting the cause and treating in just a few minutes

     

    Researchers at the University of California Los Angeles and Indiana University found that the cause of the irregular heart rhythms of atrial fibrillation was by small electrical localized sources or “hotspots” inside the heart called focal impulses or rotors. These findings showed researchers a specific part of the heart to work with – which proved successful long term when they used targeting technologies. This technology is described as a non-surgical catheter ablation. This procedure involves an electrophysiologist inserting a wire with a metal-tipped catheter into a vein in the groin and threading it up to the heart. Once there, the tip of the catheter delivers radiofrequency heat waves that burn away the bits of heart tissue that are causing the problematic electrical signals. Initial studies showed that the atrial fibrillation shut down or significantly slowed down in 86 percent of patients who received this treatment in just around 2.5 minutes.

     

    3-D technology mapping of heart’s specific electronic signals

     

    Although there have been technologies that allowed researchers to map the heart in 3-D to enhance navigation of catheters, this new 3-D imaging technology helps cardiologists to pinpoint and map exactly where signals are misfiring in the heart. This new technology allows catheter ablation to be much more precise and that much more effective, especially in patients where traditional treatment has not yet been successful. According to the research team spearheading this at the Intermountain Heart Institute, “about one year after catheter ablation, nearly 79% of patients who had the 3-D procedure were free of their atrial fibrillation, compared to only 47.4% of patients who underwent a standard ablation procedure alone without the 3-D method.

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    Future of atrial fibrillation management

     

    Left untreated, atrial fibrillation can lead to strokes, heart failure, and blood clots. By being able to catch abnormal activity as it happens as well as narrowing treatment focus on the cause of problems, many promising developments are on the horizon for atrial fibrillation management. Better monitoring and more effective treatments may make this condition a rare one.

Published On: December 11, 2014