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Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia Institute at St. David's Medical Center Celebrates Successful First Year

AUSTIN, Texas, May 11 /PRNewswire/ -- The Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia Institute (TCAI) at St. David's Medical Center has treated more than 2,300 patients with heart rhythm disorders since it launched on May 1, 2008 -- about a fourth of them from outside Central Texas.

"In just one year, the physician team at the Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia Institute at St. David's Medical Center, coupled with our unmatched level of technology, has drawn thousands of patients for the advanced treatment of heart rhythm disorders," C. David Huffstutler, Chief Executive Officer of St. David's Medical Center, said. "It's a level of comprehensive treatment they cannot get anywhere else in the country."

Led by world-renowned electrophysiologist, Andrea Natale, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.H.R.S., TCAI is the first center of its kind in the U.S. devoted to curing Atrial Fibrillation (A Fib), a heart rhythm disorder known as the "silent killer" because it can cause a massive stroke with no warning.

In addition to drawing a regional patient base, TCAI -- a multimillion-dollar international treatment, training and research center that specializes in heart rhythm disorders -- has also achieved several "firsts" during its first year of operation. Physicians at TCAI have served as pioneers in innovative treatment techniques and technology, and made extraordinary strides in physician training and clinical research related to heart rhythm disorders.

On March 3, 2009, physicians at TCAI were the first in the nation to use a new technology, the NaviStar(R) RMT ThermoCool(R) Catheter for radiofrequency (RF) ablation, to treat A Fib. TCAI was the first facility in the country to use the technology after it was approved by the FDA.

Two TCAI physicians traveled to Poland in January 2009 to pioneer a new procedure to treat A Fib.

Then, on March 4, those two physicians, Rodney P. Horton, M.D., electrophysiologist at TCAI, and Andrew Hume, M.D., cardiac surgeon with Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgeons, became the second team in the nation to perform a new convergent procedure for difficult-to-treat A Fib cases.

"It continues to be exciting to take what we, as a team, pioneered in Poland and bring it back to benefit our patients here in the United States," Horton said. "This is allowing a certain population of people who suffer from A Fib to be cured, not just treated, but cured."

The Institute has also served as a world leader in the use and development of remote and robotic therapies. In late 2008, TCAI became the first and only center to use (on a trial basis) the Velocity system, the next generation 3D mapping system. In addition, the Institute, one of only a handful of facilities in the country with both the Hansen Robot and a state-of-the-art Stereotaxis lab for the treatment of heart rhythm disorders, recently received a second Hansen Robot.

With the increasing demand for services, TCAI doubled the size of its electrophysiology lab from two procedure suites to four, including new technology. With the new space and equipment, the level of training at TCAI has also increased significantly.

Heart rhythm disorders (arrhythmias) are problems that affect the electrical system, or "wiring," of the heart muscle. Heart arrhythmias are very common and millions of people will experience an abnormal heart rhythm during their lives.

Natale serves as the Executive Medical Director of TCAI. He is also the Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, and serves as a consulting professor for the Division of Cardiology at Stanford University.

Recently, Natale has addressed attendees of the Boston Atrial Fibrillation Symposium, the International Symposium on Progress in Clinical Pacing in Rome, Italy, and the Asia-Pacific Heart Rhythm Society Scientific Session in Singapore. Natale was invited to serve as an Abstract Reviewer at the American College of Cardiology's Annual Scientific Session in March 2009. He has been an Abstract Reviewer for the American College of Cardiology for several years.

Natale is at the forefront of the advancement of treatment of Atrial Fibrillation, leading numerous clinical trials and participating in the development of new technologies and procedures. He has received a patent for a device used to modify part of the heart that causes Atrial Fibrillation, and has written or co-written hundreds of published studies on pacing and electrophysiology. Most recently, Natale participated in a clinical trial that supports the increasing use of a procedure called pulmonary-vein isolation to treat Atrial Fibrillation in patients with congestive heart failure. An article reporting the findings of the clinical trial was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Natale was head of the Cardiac Electrophysiology Section in the Cardiovascular Medicine Department at the Cleveland Clinic from 1999 to 2007. In 2006, he was named to the Food and Drug Administration's Task Force on Atrial Fibrillation.

Natale graduated from the Medical School of the University of Firenze, Italy, in 1985. After graduating from the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Rome, Italy, he completed his clinical training in cardiology at the University of Wisconsin Sinai Samaritan Medical Center and the University of Western Ontario.

In addition to Natale, the team of electrophysiologists with the Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia physician group and TCAI includes J. David Burkhardt, M.D.; Shane M. Bailey, M.D.; Robert C. Canby, M.D., F.A.C.C.; Rodney P. Horton M.D.; G. Joseph Gallinghouse, M.D.; Larry D. Price, D.O.; Javier E. Sanchez, M.D.; and Jason D. Zagrodzky, M.D.

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SOURCE Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia Institute
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