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Cure For Abnormal Heart Rhythm Available To More People

DALLAS, May 11 -- Upgrading the 'search-and-destroy' treatment that removes the abnormal heart tissue responsible for irregular heart rhythms may permit more individuals to benefit from the procedure, according to a new study in today's Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

The treatment, radiofrequency ablation, is needed because, in the majority of individuals, drugs are ineffective in controlling the serious irregular heart rhythms called atrial tachycardia. While not immediately dangerous to most patients, this abnormal rhythm imposes an extra burden on it that eventually may damage the heart and lead to congestive heart failure, a condition in which the heart is unable to pump enough blood to meet the body's demands. The only way to control the condition of these patients is to find the source of the abnormal beat in the heart and to destroy the culprit tissue by radiofrequency ablation.

"Because the electrode technique currently used for detecting abnormal heart rhythms is time-consuming and technically difficult, it is not suitable for all individuals with irregular heartbeats. Thus, many individuals who could be benefiting from the ablation therapy are not able to," says lead author Claus Schmitt, M.D., head cardiologist of the electrophysiology department at the Deutsches Herzzentrum Mnchen, in Munich, Germany. In the study, Schmitt and his colleagues tested a new 64-electrode 'basket' catheter that transmits signals in many directions simultaneously. The standard catheter has only about four to 10 electrodes for mapping the heart.

With the upgraded technique, physicians insert the multiple electrode-bearing catheter into a person's blood vessel and guide it into the heart to search for the tissue housing the abnormal rhythm. Once the abnormal heart tissue is detected, radiowaves heat and destroy the tissue.

"The multielectrode basket catheter adds a new dimension to mapping the electrical signals o
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Contact: Carole Bullock
caroleb@heart.org
214-706-1279
American Heart Association
10-May-1999


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