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Adventist Heart Institute Arrhythmia Center Presents Atrial Fibrillation Seminar

April 25, 2013

Doctors discuss breakthrough precision medicine techniques

Doctors from the Adventist Heart Institute’s St. Helena Arrhythmia Center presented a seminar April 24 on atrial fibrillation (A-Fib), an electrical disorder of the heart that causes an irregular and often rapid heart rate. The condition can be caused by high blood pressure or abnormal hearts valves, or have no apparent cause. Symptoms of A-Fib can be debilitating, and include heart palpitations, shortness of breath and weakness. Left untreated, A-Fib can lead to stroke and heart failure.

With more than 100 community members present, the center’s team of leading cardiac physicians presented information focusing on the latest treatment options to restore normal heart function, including the revolutionary minimally invasive Hybrid Maze procedure.

The Arrhythmia Center’s program was introduced by Terry Newmyer, CEO at St. Helena Hospital Napa Valley, who emceed the event. Following a video of patients describing their experiences with A-Fib treatment, Dr. Monica Divakaruni, FACC, a specialist in Interventional Cardiology, spoke on the basics of arrhythmia: definition, symptoms, and first steps in recognizing and treating the condition. Dr. Divakaruni came to St. Helena Hospital from Stanford Medical Center.

Dr. Peter Chang-Sing, a Yale-educated Cardiac Electrophysiology specialist with more than 28 years of experience in treating A-Fib, spoke about more advanced treatments and the role of the electrophysiologist in diagnosing and treating heart rhythm disorders.

The Hybrid Maze procedure was discussed by Dr. Gan Dunnington, FACC Cardiacthoracic Surgery. Dr. Dunnington explained how the procedure uses small incisions in the side of the chest to correct the electrical misfires affecting the heart. Formerly an assistant professor of cardiothoracic surgery at Stanford University School of Medicine, Dr. Dunnington is one of only a few surgeons on the West Coast to perform the Hybrid Maze. He described a range of treatment options and their various risks and benefits, and explained how the Hybrid Maze procedure has changed how physicians look at arrhythmia treatment.

“This procedure is pretty revolutionary,” Dunnington said. “By combining two different approaches, we’re able to treat the heart in new ways, from the inside and the outside at the same time, without opening the chest. Patients get better outcomes than with either approach alone, without extended recovery time.”

The St. Helena Arrhythmia Center continues to build on a long-standing tradition of innovation in cardiac treatment. As Newmyer pointed out, St. Helena Hospital has introduced many “firsts” in cardiac care in Northern California, and continues to strive to be at the forefront in developing new treatments and approaches. “The Hybrid Maze procedure is a major step forward in our goal to be a center of innovation in cardiac care. We’re very pleased to be able to introduce this option in our community.”

The Arrhythmia Center program centers on individualized treatment solutions, including:

Lifestyle Changes – for a healthier heart, which can decrease the likelihood of arrhythmias.

Medication – to prevent and control arrhythmias, and treat related conditions like high blood pressure, heart disease or heart failure. Medications might include anticoagulants or blood thinners to reduce the risk of blood clots or stroke.

AVN Ablation – Atrioventricular nodal (AVN) ablation is used to treat conditions such as atrial fibrillation and supraventricular tachycardia. The ablation focuses on the AV node, a specialized tissue which is part of the heart’s electrical system. This is performed in conjunction with the implantation of a pacemaker.

Hybrid Maze – A combination procedure using minimally invasive techniques to perform ablation on both the inner and outer surfaces of the heart without opening the chest. The resulting scar tissue blocks the electrical short circuits causing the irregular heart rhythm.

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The Adventist Heart Institute values your privacy and handles your personal information with care. Your email address and information is secure, confidential and will not be sold to any third party sources.

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