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Expanding to Meet the Needs of Our Community

Pulmonary Vein Ablation

Reducing the Disabilities of Stroke

Less Pain, Fewer Infections

What Every Woman Should Know

Calendar of Educational
and Community Events
Winter 2010


Heart to Heart Talk:
Ask the Cardiologist

Beating Arrhythmia Once and for All
Alternative to Major Cardiac Surgery:

Pulmonary Vein Ablation

Some people describe it as "uncomfortable awareness." Others say itís downright scary. An abnormal heart rate, or arrhythmia, can affect people in offbeat ways. The most common arrhythmia – atrial fibrillation (AF ) – can cause shortness of breath, the feeling of pounding in the chest and/or chest pain.* Meanwhile, some people are completely unaware they have AF because they notice no symptoms at all. Normally, tiny electrical impulses run through the heart and cause it to pump blood and oxygen throughout the body. AF occurs when these electrical impulses go haywire.

Minimally Invasive Procedures
An estimated 2.2 million people are living with AF in the United States.** "Their hearts have unpredictable bouts of erratic beating," says Tapan Rami, MD, cardiac electrophysiologist with the Methodist DeBakey Heart and Vascular Center. "Medications can help regulate heart rhythms – but they only help 40% to 60% of the time. Untreated, AF can cause blood to pool in the heart, creating clots that increase the risk of stroke and sudden cardiac arrest for some people."

When medications arenít working, Methodist Willowbrook Hospital offers alternatives to having major open cardiac surgery or living with AFís symptoms and serious health risks. The hospital has offered minimally invasive cardiac ablation procedures to treat chronic abnormal heart rhythms since 2007 – and is now proud to offer pulmonary vein ablation (PVA). PVA works by blocking electrical dysfunctions that arise from the pulmonary veins, which exit at the top of the heart and lead to the lungs.

Methodist Willowbrook Hospital is proud to offer pulmonary vein ablation (PVA), a leading-edge minimally invasive procedure that treats atrial fibrillation (AF). Talk to your doctor about whether you may be a candidate for PVA or other safe and convenient alternatives to lifelong medications, major cardiac surgery or living with the risk of stroke and sudden cardiac arrest associated with AF.
"Cardiac ablations use tiny, thin tubes called catheters that are inserted into a blood vessel in the arm or leg and guided to the heart," explains Lyle Muhammad, R.T.(R), MBA, Director of Cardiology Services. "PVA uses highly sophisticated equipment that is typically only available at tertiary facilities, and Methodist Willowbrook has made a commitment to and investment in our community by providing this leading-edge treatment locally to the people of northwest Houston.

"Patients are more relaxed when they are near home – knowing they will receive the same high-quality, advanced care as they would from our medical center campus," Muhammad adds. "And loved ones can provide better support to patients because they arenít preoccupied with travel and parking."

Advanced Technology Leaves More Time for Personalized Care
PVA is performed under light anesthesia in Methodist Willowbrookís state-of-the-art Cardiac Cath Lab. Patients typically spend one night at the hospital and return to daily activities within a day or two. "The tiny catheters deliver energy to problem areas of the heart that connect to the pulmonary veins," explains Dr. Rami. "The energy produces a scar that blocks the pathway of abnormal rhythms and prevents AF."

"Technology advances continue to improve PVAís efficacy and safety and also enhance personalized care," Muhammad says. "Our 3D cardiac mapping system visualizes the heartís anatomy and electrical currents while a 3D magnet-guided navigation system provides precise accuracy in placing the catheter and targeting electrical dysfunctions. Improved technology also streamlines doctorsí work and allows them more time to spend with patients and family members."

Abnormal heart rhythms do not have to make your life abnormal. To learn more about Methodist Willowbrook Hospitalís arrhythmia treatments, please call 281-737-1044.

* Chest pain is a major heart attack symptom:Seek emergency medical help.
** Source: American Heart Association.