Atrial fibrillation, also referred to as AFib, is one of the most common heart rhythm disorders and will occur in four out of five people within their lifetime.
St. Luke’s opened a new Heart Rhythm Center in December 2013 which provides a personalized, streamlined level of care for patients who have been referred due to an AFib diagnosis.
Atrial fibrillation is caused when the upper chambers of the heart, called the atria, beat out of sync with the lower chambers due to abnormal or chaotic electric signals. When the chambers are out of sync, the heart can either pump blood too slowly with a heart rate of under 60 beats per minute, too quickly which causes a heart rate that is more than 100 beats per minute. This causes poor blood circulation through out the body and can drastically increase your risk for stroke.
Signs and symptoms of AFib can include dizziness, feeling fatigued or light headed, anxiety, or chest pains. However, in some cases, patients have little to no symptoms at all.
While there is no specific cause for Atrial fibrillation, many factors can attribute to an increased risk of the disorder. Diabetes, sleep apnea, heavy alcohol use, illicit drug use, thyroid issues, gastroesophageal reflux disease and previous cardiac surgeries are all conditions which can increase your chances for AFib significantly. Three dimensional image of AFib patient's EP procedure.
If it is decided that the AFib patient requires an electrophysiology (EP) procedure, they are scheduled into one of two St. Luke’s EP labs. An EP procedure is minimally invasive, which typically allows for a quick recovery.
To begin the procedure, one or more catheters, which are small, flexible wires, are inserted through a vein and guided to the heart to measure the electrical activity that is causing the irregular heart beat.
During the procedure, a state of the art EnSite Velocity Cardiac Mapping System allows the EP doctors three dimensional views of the patient’s heart while retaining real-time visualization and navigation of the catheters inserted in the heart.
This full view of the heart allows the doctors to pinpoint exactly where the fibrillation is occurring. Once the problem area is located, the catheters take action.
“The catheters are directed to create burn lines in the area that are transferring the extra electrical signals in the heart to stop the extra electrical signals from occurring” Melanie Williams, RN explains.
St. Luke’s Heart Rhythm Center has three Board Certified Electrophysiologists, Clinical Medical Director Dr. Marcos Daccarett, Dr. Melinda Marks, and Dr. Daniel Noonan along with the center’s nurse coordinator Melanie Williams, RN to help patients feel safe and comfortable throughout the treatment process.
EP team uses catheters to locate and measure electrical activity within the heart causing the irregular heart beats.
“Being able to open the St. Luke’s Heart Rhythm Center means a great deal to patients in Boise and the surrounding areas,” said Dr. Marcos Daccarett, heart rhythm director. “Because of the prevalence of AFib heart disorder, patients now have the option to not only be treated locally but also to have access to the region’s most advanced treatment technology.”
The Heart Rhythm Center is the only AFib treatment facility in the state and provides this kind of specialized, advanced care for more than 50 new patients a week. Last year, the three doctors saw a combined total of more than 6,500 patients including both new patients as well as follow up appointments.
“With the right treatment and lifestyle changes, you can achieve a successful outcome, higher quality of life and the ability to enjoy your favorite people and activities for many years to come,” Daccarett said.