As you get older you’re at greater risk for suffering an abnormal
heart rhythm. The most common kind is called atrial fibrillation or AF.
If you suffer from AF you’ll often experience a faster than normal
heart beat, heart palpitations, even shortness of breath or chest pain.
Even more troubling, those with AF are three times more likely to require
hospitalization, have seven times greater risk of stroke and more than
one quarter eventually develop heart failure. That’s why cardiologists
at Torrance Memorial are so excited about new state of the art technology
that allows them to better treat chronic AF. The new technology for cardiac
ablation is helping patients’ hearts return to normal rhythm allowing
them to reduce medication, and improve their quality of life. Most importantly,
patients feel better and are likely to have fewer hospital admissions
or ER visits.“For patients in persistent atrial fibrillation the
only options in the past were medications, catheter ablation or open heart
surgery,” explains Jack Sun, M.D., a cardiac surgeon and Medical
Director of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Torrance Memorial Medical Center.
“Some medications have bad side effects and catheter ablations have
had limited success even when done multiple times. Open-heart surgery
has very high success rates but requires opening the chest, stopping the
heart, using the heart-lung machine, and opening chambers of the heart.
This is more invasive and requires several days of recovery in the hospital.”
“The new hybrid AF ablation procedure called CONVERGENT is minimally
invasive usually requiring only one or two overnight stays in the hospital,”
says Dr. Sun. “Through a very small incision below the breastbone,
I access the heart and use a catheter device to burn scars onto the left
upper chamber of the heart which is the source of the majority of abnormal
electrical impulses that cause atrial fibrillation. A second procedure
is performed by a Cardiac Electrophysiologist.” Cardiac Electrophysiologists
Sang Yong Ji, M.D. and Erol Kosar, M.D. use mapping systems to direct
a freezing balloon catheter called a cryoballoon into the remaining areas
to create scars. This catheter is sent through a vein in the groin and
the procedure is usually better tolerated than the conventional radiofrequency
“State of the art mapping systems allow me to create a beautiful
three dimensional shell of the heart. As each patient has a different
shape and size of the heart and chambers, creating an accurate shell is
extremely important for safety and efficacy,” explains Dr. Ji. “In
my personal opinion the new Rhythmia mapping system is a game changer
because it allows for accuracy up to 99.8% and can register 25 times more
high quality signals from the heart six times faster than the older systems.
We were one of the first to use this system on the West Coast and our
outcomes have been excellent.”A recent report shows over 80% of patients who underwent this new hybrid
procedure were still mainly in normal sinus (heart) rhythm after five
years when usually more than half are suffering again. A study on the Rhythmia mapping system for ablation procedures is currently
underway and Torrance Memorial Medical Center is one of the top enrolling
centers in the world.“Torrance Memorial’s Arrhythmia Center
is one of the few centers in California that has advanced mapping system
technology,” says Dr. Kosar. “We are very grateful to our
administrators for allowing our patients to benefit from these advanced
treatment methods. I also want to clarify that for recent onset persistent
atrial fibrillation, the older transvenous approach has very good results
especially when using high density mapping.”
Cardiothoracic Surgeon Jack Sun, M.D. can be reached at 310-784-6946.
Cardiac Electrophysiologists Sang Yong Ji, M.D. and Erol Kosar, M.D. can
be reached at their office at 310-257-0508.
6 Ways to Prevent Atrial Fibrillation
- Get regular physical activity.
- Eat a heart-healthy diet, low in salt, saturated fats, trans fats, and
- Manage high blood pressure.
- Don’t smoke and avoid excessive amounts of alcohol and caffeine.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Control cholesterol.