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UCLA uses new hybrid, precision heart procedures to help stop deadly arrhythmias
Date:11/8/2010

New techniques now being used at UCLA allow doctors to more precisely target certain areas of the heart to stop ventricular arrhythmias serious abnormal rhythms in the heart's lower chambers in high-risk patients.

Generally, arrhythmias can be controlled by medications, and sometimes defibrillators. But a potentially life-threatening, recurrent arrhythmia known as a ventricular tachycardia, which originates in one of the heart's two ventricles, can produce a fast heart beat that requires other interventions, such as catheter ablation, in which the precise focus area of the arrhythmia must be controlled.

Cardiologists will often use catheter ablation once medications and other therapies have failed. The procedure involves the insertion of a tiny, metal-tipped catheter through a vein in the groin or neck to reach the inside of the heart. Prior to the procedure, electrical tests are conducted on the heart to identify and map the exact site of the arrhythmia's origin.

While ablation is usually performed inside the heart, in about 15 to 30 percent of patients with dangerous ventricular tachycardias, the site responsible for the abnormal rhythm is on the heart's outer surface. Normally, this can be addressed by an ablation procedure, performed in a cardiac catheterization lab, in which doctors thread a wire with a metal-tipped catheter inside the body, under the ribcage, to apply heat or cold to the area of the heart's ventricle that is producing the arrhythmia, stopping it.

However, in high-risk patients who have scarring from previous heart surgeries, it is difficult to reach the outside of the heart. To tackle this problem, a team at UCLA has devised a hybrid approach combining catheter ablation with minimally invasive surgical techniques.

"UCLA is at the forefront of developing and using new techniques and approaches to better access a high-risk patient's heart to stop difficult-to-reach, life-threate
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Contact: Rachel Champeau
rchampeau@mednet.ucla.edu
310-794-2270
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert  

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UCLA uses new hybrid, precision heart procedures to help stop deadly arrhythmias
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