HCA West Florida hospitals provide a wide range of community health lectures and programs, including cardiac and AFib topics. To learn more, visit the calendar of the HCA West Florida hospital closest to you.
The body naturally produces electricity that travels over the heart muscle and stimulates the heart to contract or beat. The electrical signal that tells the heart to beat comes from a small area of the right atrium of the heart. This area is located in the upper right chamber of the heart and is called the sinoatrial node, or SA node. When a signal is given by the SA node, a small electrical impulse runs through the heart and stimulates the heart muscle to contract. The contraction of the heart muscle produces a heartbeat and forces blood out of the heart to the rest of your body. Certain conditions can cause the electrical system to make the heart beat too slowly, too fast, or in an uncoordinated manner. These irregular patterns are called arrhythmias and they can occur in any of the four chambers of the heart.
- Heartbeats that are too slow (bradycardia)
- Heartbeats that are too fast (tachycardia)
- Extra beats
- Skipped beats
- Beats coming from abnormal areas of the heart
- Atrial Fibrillation (AFib)
An electrophysiology study will help the physician determine the best treatment for you by showing where the arrhythmias are occurring.
Some arrhythmias may occur without any symptoms. Others, such as AFib, may cause noticeable symptoms, such as:
- Dizziness, sensation of light-headedness
- Sensation of your heart fluttering (palpitations)
- Sensation of a missed or extra heart beat
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
The Convergent Procedure
The Convergent Procedure is a truly minimally-invasive approach that combines the best of electrophysiology (EP) and cardiac surgery treatments to help restore normal heart rhythm for all A-Fib sufferers, including patients with structural heart disease who may have previously failed one or more other treatments.
The procedure uses radiofrequency (extreme heat) to produce lesions (scar tissue) on the heart to block abnormal electrical signals. During the procedure, a cardiac surgeon and an electrophysiologist work as a team, in a single setting. The surgeon is able to create a comprehensive, linear lesion pattern on the outside surface of a beating heart through a small incision (1 inch) made in the patient’s abdomen, instead of through invasive chest incisions and/or ports, as in other surgical procedures. The electrophysiologist then threads a catheter through the patient’s femoral vein, in the groin, to reach the heart and fill in any gaps in the ablation pattern and utilizes diagnostic techniques to confirm all abnormal electrical signals have been interrupted.
Most patients who’ve undergone the Convergent Procedure experience restored normal heart rhythm and have been able to stop taking daily heart rate and heart rhythm medications. Typical hospital stays have lasted two to three days, and patients are back to normal activities quickly.
For those patients with certain types of AFib for whom drug-therapy or device implantation has not been successful, there is a new treatment option called the Arctic Front Cardiac CryoAblation Catheter System. Northside Hospital is the first medical facility in Pinellas, Pasco, and Manatee counties to offer this procedure.
- Safe and effective because it has a low risk for complications.
- Has been used to treat over 20,000 patients in more than 200 centers worldwide.
Seventy percent of patients treated with cryoablation were free from symptomatic A-Fib at one year, compared with just over seven percent of patients who were treated with drug therapy only. Arctic Front is considered a safe and effective medical device for treating PAF because it has a low risk of complications. Due to its balloon shape, an advantage of cryoablation is the ability of the physician to create a continuous line of scar tissue all the way around the pulmonary vein with just a few applications. With other “point-to-point” catheter systems, repeated applications are made to create many small lesions in an attempt to form a continuous line of scar tissue.
Northside Hospital is the only hospital on the west coast of Florida and the fourth hospital in the state to begin utilizing the Watchman Left Atrial Appendage Closure Implant for patients with non-valvular Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) who are currently on warfarin (Coumadin). People with AFib have a five times greater risk of suffering a stroke or systemic embolism. The most common treatment to reduce this stroke risk in patients with AFib is with warfarin (a blood thinner). The Watchman Implant closes off an area of the heart called the left atrial appendage to keep blood clots from leaving the left atrial appendage, entering the blood stream and potentially causing a stroke.
- After 45 days, most patients were able to stop taking warfarin
- After one year, over 99% of patients who had this device implanted were able to stop taking warfarin
- Patients treated with the Watchman therapy had a 71% relative reduction in major bleeding after six months compared to patients treated with warfarin
- 85% risk reduction in hemorrhagic stroke compared to warfarin
- 63% risk reduction in disabling stroke compared to warfarin
- 56% risk reduction in cardiovascular death compared to warfarin
Six HCA West Florida hospitals are the first in the region to receive AFib Certification. These include Brandon Regional Hospital, Largo Medical Center, Northside Hospital, Palms of Pasadena Hospital, Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point, and St. Petersburg General Hospital.