Exploring New Treatments for Atrial Fibrillation
Blaine Teters is feeling so good these days that he is planning to get back on the golf course. Until recently, his irregular heartbeat would have made golf difficult, if not impossible.
The 64-year-old Wilton, Iowa automobile dealer had experienced periods of as long as five days when his heart was out of rhythm. "It would race up to 200 beats per minute, then down to 50. I was feeling lousier and lousier,'' he explains. "I would get so tired."
Giudici, M.D., performs a
promising procedure to treat
atrial fibrillation at Genesis
Medical Center, Davenport as
part of a clinical trial.
After undergoing a promising procedure to treat atrial fibrillation at Genesis Medical Center, Davenport as part of a clinical trial, Teters said his heart is beating normally for the first time in nearly two years.
Genesis Medical Center, Davenport and electrophysiologist Michael Giudici, M.D., have become attractive partners for companies that present new technology and techniques in clinical trials in the United States. Genesis is often participating in several clinical trials at the same time to treat heart rhythm disorders.
"We're always looking for the latest and greatest devices and techniques but the most important thing is trying to find out how something new can benefit our patients,'' says Dr. Giudici, a physician with Cardiovascular Medicine PC. "The benefit to the patients in clinical trials can be tremendous. Our Genesis patients have access to new technology that others may not have access to for 3 to 5 years.''
The newest trial Genesis and Dr. Giudici are participating in investigates the treatment of chronic atrial fibrillation. Abalation Frontiers of California is testing equipment that may allow Dr. Giudici to improve patient outcomes, reduce the recurrence of the irregular heart rhythm and shorten procedure times for his Genesis patients.
Atrial fibrillation is the most common heart rhythm irregularity and a diagnosis shared by more than 2 million Americans. The problem can cause noticeable palpitations, shortness of breath, fatigue and stroke. Atrial fibrillation usually isn't life-threatening, but can lead to complications that are.
Treatment options for atrial fibrillation include medication, but chronic atrial fibrillation can require a catheter ablation procedure. There is also a surgical treatment option available at Genesis.
Catheter ablation has been available at Genesis since 2004. During a catheter ablation procedure that can take several hours, Dr. Giudici uses radiofrequency generation to repair areas that cause the arrhythmia. He and Genesis are also participating in a clinical trial using cryoablation, or cold-tip ablation, that freezes the abnormal heart tissue. "Any tool that can help with a condition that is miserable for the patients is worth its weight in gold," Dr. Giudici says.
Ablation Frontiers has developed several different catheter options for ablation procedures. The different catheters allow fewer contacts with the abnormal heart tissue and possibly more effective contacts and procedures may be quicker.
"One of the problems we have had with chronic atrial fibrillation is that we can do a procedure but the same issue will return a few months later and the patient will be back in for another procedure,'' Giudici says. "If we can get good long-term results and shorten procedures, that is very good for the patient.''
Genesis is one of 24 heart care centers in the country participating in the Ablation Frontiers clinical trial and is the only hospital in the region participating. Dr. Giudici has participated in more than 100 clinical trials and has presented papers and research at dozens of events and conventions all over the world. For information about cardiac clinical trials at Genesis, contact Caroline Sloane, RN, at (563) 421-3943.