(09/05/12) - Doctors can now see inside your heart- literally - and that is making it easier for them to do their jobs. The heightened view allows them to more easily see and possibly stop atrial fibrillation.
"It felt like my heart was going to explode. Everything was just racing. "I thought I was probably having a heart attack," Bret Story says of his first episode of atrial fibrillation.
The condition causes the heart to beat fast and out of rhythm. It is the most common form of arrhythmia, and can lead to stroke or heart attack.
Bret says, over those years, it happened more and more, taking a huge toll. "Out of breath. Zero energy."
He was recently picked to be one of the first people to undergo a new procedure. It is called Heartlight. A balloon catheter with a built in camera is inserted through a tiny hole in the groin. The camera gives doctors a new way to burn away the problem.
"We can actually look into the heart, which is fascinating. to actually see the heart, the beating heart and to actually see the target right there in front of us," says Dr. David Haines of Beaumont Hospital.
Dr. Haines says traditional ablation treatments that purposely damage problem areas in the heart are not always precise. "Very difficult to manipulate the catheter around."
But, the beating heart images Haines sees with the Heartlight allow him to aim and fire the laser more accurately to make a perfect line of burns around the problem area. "Well, that's very powerful."
It has been two years since Bret's Heartlight treatment. He hasn't had an a-fib episode since. "I can do anything I used to do."
Recruiting for phase three trials of the Heartlight are going on right now at sites across the country. For more information, visit http://clinicaltrials.gov/show/NCT01456000
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