Atrial fibrillation (AFIB), a condition in which the heart fires so rapidly that the upper chambers quiver instead of beating in a normal rhythmic pattern, is the now most common arrhythmia condition worldwide and is recognized as a global health problem with its burden of morbidity and mortality resulting from embolic stroke. AFIB is expected to double by 2030.
Thanks to advances in the field of catheter ablation for AFIB, we currently enjoy higher success rates in restoring the heart back to normal rhythm for a longer period of time than we did 10 years ago. The advent of new catheter technologies, such as the ability to sense the amount of force exerted on the heart walls by the catheter, as well as balloons that are capable of delivering cryogenic based ablation, have led to more effective and more comfortable procedures for patients. The software systems utilized for mapping the heart’s electrical system and catheter visualization have improved to the point that many ablations can be done without the use of potentially harmful x-rays.
Recently published evidence regarding the safety and efficacy of catheter ablation suggests that ablation is superior to anti-arrhythmic drug therapy in terms of controlling the rhythm (rates of success in the 65 to 75 percent range) as well as preventing future hospitalization, stroke and even death. Catheter ablation for atrial fibrillation has become the standard of care for those who seek relief from the symptoms and complications associated with atrial fibrillation.
Corey M. Coleman, MD practices with Birmingham Heart Clinic where he specializes in cardiac electrophysiology.
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