New heart procedure offered at St. Bernards

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT)-A new heart procedure is being offered at St. Bernards in Jonesboro.

Pulmonary vein ablation is a treatment for atrial fibrillation, which is the most common type of arrhythmia.

A new Electrophysiology Laboratory was recently constructed in the St. Bernards Heartcare Center.

This EP Lab is what is making this new procedure possible.

Electrophysiologist for St. Bernards, Dr. Devi Nair, says atrial fibrillation can cause a number of medical problems in the people who suffer from it.

"When one has atrial fibrillation," Nair said. "The heart rate is very, very fast, irregular and not normal. Atrial fibrillation by itself is not lethal, but the side effects are very lethal. You can have heart rates so fast your bottom heart chambers will speed up and go very fast. And sometimes, atrial fibrillation can result in stroke because of blood not moving well between the top and bottom chambers of the heart. On top of that, it can be very symptomatic and can effect anyone at any age."

Dr. Nair says this new procedure helps them discover where the exact problem is and fix it.

"This new ablation procedure is catheter based," Nair said. "We insert the catheters, which are long flexible tubes, into the heart. And through that we insert long electrical wires into the heart. Once the electrical wires are in the heart, we map the heart using a specialized mapping system, which is much like the GPS system in a car. This helps us figure out exactly where the short circuits are in the heart to differentiate what causes atrial fibrillation and what causes other heart rhythm problems. Once we isolate all the short circuits in the heart, we then cauterize it using radio frequency energy."

43 year old Brandon Harper of Manila suffered from atrial fibrillation.

After four years of medications proving ineffective, Dr. Nair, recommended Harper consider this type of procedure.

After doing a little research of his own, Harper agreed and underwent the procedure in mid April.

Harper, "I researched some of the issues with the ablation procedure. So, between some of the research that I found and speaking with Dr. Nair, that's kind of what prompted me to go ahead and elect to have the procedure. I had the procedure in April and everything's been going great since. I haven't had any symptoms, any reoccurrences, and I've not felt this good in probably four years."

Harper says he would suffer from a rapid heart rate, shortness of breath, a general discomfort in his chest area.

"It felt like something was weighing on my chest and heavy," Harper said. "Like something was laying across my chest. It was generally just a very scary experience."

Harper says since he underwent the procedure in April, he's doing good.

"For anyone who suffers from atrial fibrillation and if medication is not working for them, I would certainly encourage them to consider the ablation procedure as an option for treatment."

St. Bernards invested 2.5 million dollars to create the state of the art EP lab used for the new procedures.

For more information about St. Bernards, log onto their website.

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