Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Heating Heart With Catheter Works Better Than Drugs For Heart Rhythm Disorder, Study Shows

Date:
November 13, 2008
Source:
Loyola University Health System
Summary:
Treating a common heart rhythm disorder by burning heart tissue with a catheter works dramatically better than drug treatments, a major international study has found. One year after undergoing a treatment called catheter ablation, 75 percent of patients with an irregular heartbeat called atrial fibrillation were free of symptoms. By comparison, only 21 percent of those treated with drugs were symptom-free. Results were so convincing the trial was halted early.

Treating a common heart rhythm disorder by burning heart tissue with a catheter works dramatically better than drug treatments, a major international study has found.

One year after undergoing a treatment called catheter ablation, 75 percent of patients with an irregular heartbeat called atrial fibrillation were free of symptoms. By comparison, only 21 percent of those treated with drugs were symptom-free. Results were so convincing the trial was halted early.

The ablation group also scored significantly higher on a quality-of-life scale.

The study included 159 patients at 19 centers, including 15 centers in the United States. Results were presented at the American Heart Association 2008 Scientific Sessions in New Orleans by lead researcher Dr. David Wilber, director of the Cardiovascular Institute at Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine in Maywood, Il.*

Atrial fibrillation, often called A-Fib, is the most common form of irregular heartbeat. Electrical signals, which regulate the heartbeat, become erratic. Instead of beating regularly, the upper chambers of the heart quiver. Not all the blood gets pumped out, so clots can form. Atrial fibrillation can lead to strokes and heart failure.

A-Fib patient Robin Drabant, 34, of Hanover Park, Il., said the condition once "made me feel like I was 90 years old with a failing heart." She was on a maximum dose of an A-Fib medication, which caused fatigue. Despite the drug, she still had episodes almost every day, lasting from 10 seconds to an hour or longer. "I would lose my breath and could feel my heart racing and fluttering," she said.

Wilber performed a catheter ablation on Drabant last May, and she no longer has A-Fib episodes. "I had great results," she said.

A-Fib symptoms include heart palpitations, dizziness, fatigue, shortness of breath and fainting. "A lot of people are disabled," Wilber said. "They have no energy. They can't work. They have a very poor quality of life."

More than 2 million Americans have atrial fibrillation, and there are about 160,000 new cases each year. The number is increasing, due in part to the aging population and the obesity epidemic.

Drugs such as beta blockers and calcium channel blockers can slow the heart rate during an A-Fib episode. Other drugs such as flecainide and propafenone can help maintain a normal rhythm. When drugs don't work or produce unacceptable side effects, alternative treatments include a pacemaker, surgery and catheter ablation.

In the ablation procedure, an electrophysiologist destroys small areas of heart tissue that are responsible for the erratic electrical signals. A catheter (thin flexible tube) is guided through blood vessels to the heart. The tip of the catheter delivers radiofrequency energy that heats and destroys tissue. Possible adverse effects include irritation of the lining of the heart, fluid in the lungs or around the heart, bleeding, clots and stroke.

In the study, 103 patients with frequent episodes of atrial fibrillation were randomly assigned to undergo ablation and 56 similar patients were randomly assigned to receive drug therapy. All patients had experienced at least three episodes of atrial fibrillation during the previous six months and had failed at least one attempt to control the rhythm with drugs.

*The study was funded by Biosense Webster, which makes the ThermoCool catheter used in the trial. Wilber is a consultant to the company.

The study was the largest to date to compare ablation to drug therapy for atrial fibrillation. Earlier studies involved single centers and smaller sample sizes, Wilber said. An additional study called CABANA is designed to determine whether ablation patients live longer than patients receiving medication. Researchers will follow about 3,000 patients for three years.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Loyola University Health System. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Loyola University Health System. "Heating Heart With Catheter Works Better Than Drugs For Heart Rhythm Disorder, Study Shows." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 November 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081111163000.htm>.
Loyola University Health System. (2008, November 13). Heating Heart With Catheter Works Better Than Drugs For Heart Rhythm Disorder, Study Shows. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081111163000.htm
Loyola University Health System. "Heating Heart With Catheter Works Better Than Drugs For Heart Rhythm Disorder, Study Shows." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081111163000.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, April 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

'Holy Grail' Of Weight Loss? New Find Could Be It

'Holy Grail' Of Weight Loss? New Find Could Be It

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) In a potential breakthrough for future obesity treatments, scientists have used MRI scans to pinpoint brown fat in a living adult for the first time. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) A new report shows rates of two foodborne infections increased in the U.S. in recent years, while salmonella actually dropped 9 percent. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) The breakthrough could mean a cure for some serious diseases and even the possibility of human cloning, but it's all still a way off. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups

Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) President Barack Obama gave a briefing Thursday announcing 8 million people have signed up under the Affordable Care Act. He blasted continued Republican efforts to repeal the law. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins