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New Technology Treats Common Heart Condition

Baytown, TX - 7/9/2013

It’s one of the most common heart conditions in the United States but most people do not recognize the symptoms. Atrial fibrillation, or AFib, affects 2.7 million Americans and those who suffer from it are five times more likely to have a stroke, according to the American Heart Association.

Symptoms of AFib include shortness of breath, chest pain, and palpitations. Once discovered, the first line of defense is typically medication therapy. However, if a patient does not respond to medication, or continues to have problems despite taking medication, he or she may be a candidate for treatment involving electrophysiology (EP).

first AFib ablation in the electrophysiology (EP) room at San Jacinto Methodist Hospital
Dr. James Strickland (far left) performs the first AFib ablation in the electrophysiology (EP) room at San Jacinto Methodist Hospital. SJMH is the only Houston area hospital equipped with an Innova IGS 630 biplane system, the latest 3-D technology for minimally invasive procedures.

Enrique Duran of Baytown, a patient of cardiologist Dr. Malladi Reddy, was a prime candidate for ablation therapy after his AFib failed to respond to medicine alone. He was referred to Dr. James Strickland, a board certified cardiac electrophysiologist who specializes in cardiac arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats).  Duran’s was the first percutaneous AFib ablation performed in San Jacinto Methodist’s new EP-capable room. This catheter-based technique utilizes a vein in the patient’s leg to access the heart.

“Ablation therapy is designed to create scar tissue in the heart which ultimately interrupts the arrhythmia. It is shown to have better long-term results for AFib patients than medical therapy alone,” said Strickland. 

The Cardiac Cath Lab at San Jacinto Methodist houses the latest state-of-the-art technology that allows for treatment of this condition without a transfer to the Texas Medical Center. San Jacinto Methodist has the only Innova IGS 630 biplane cardiovascular and interventional imaging system in Houston and the surrounding area. This equipment provides 3-D imaging and advanced capabilities, offering extreme surgical precision during minimally invasive procedures.

Ablation therapy can take two to three hours to complete and is considered an outpatient procedure. Patients are typically discharged the following day, and the patient returns to his or her cardiologist for any follow-up care.

“With such a common arrhythmia like this, we have to be able to provide the full gamut of treatment for our patients,” said Strickland. “Now that we have a state-of-the-art EP lab at San Jacinto Methodist, we can provide our patients with more options.”

The hospital’s EP program expands cardiovascular services available in the Cath Lab and raises the standard for heart care available to Baytown and the surrounding communities. Building the program required collaboration from the Cath Lab and cardiovascular surgery teams, cardiologists and anesthesiologists.

“The program provides the highest quality of care, making sure patients are treated effectively and safely.  What makes our program successful is the highly motivated Cath Lab team, and the support we receive from them,” said Strickland.

For more information on heart and vascular services available at San Jacinto Methodist Hospital, please call 855-999-SJMH (7564).