NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH)–There is new technology for treating people with a common heart issue, known as Atrial Fibrillation or AFib.
More than two million Americans live with AFib.
Yale New Haven Hospital is right now the only site studying the impact of a new technology to prevent one of the most worrisome complications of treating it.
People with AFib have irregular heartbeats, putting them more at risk for stroke, blood clots and other heart-related problems.
A common treatment to correct it is through ablation.
But for dentist, Dr. Bob Ruby, heating the points of his heart, causing AFib, didn’t work for him, and neither did medication.
He says, “I was operating at maybe 60 to 75 percent. You just didn’t feel well. You feel crummy.”
Mostly because doctors couldn’t get to a trouble spot — that was too close to the esophagus, which sits next to the heart.
Dr. Joseph Akar at Yale New Haven Hospital explains, “The potential damage of the esophagus is one of our biggest fears.”
The cardiologist is studying the benefit of using infrared technology to keep the rare but life threatening complication from happening.
“It’s basically similar to technology,” says Dr. Akar, “that’s utilized in heat seeking missiles or in night goggles that allows people to see activity or objects at night.”
A new probe allows doctors to measure the temperature of the esophagus in real time — enabling them to reach tough to get to areas safely.
“And anytime there is hitting here, it can pick it up as a hot spot and let us know that the temperature is really rising in the esophagus so that we could come off immediately,” says Dr. Akar.
“A lot of worry no question,” says Dr. Ruby, “I don’t know about scared to death but you’re frightened.”
Patients in the study like Dr. Ruby are no longer worried, “I’m exercising, walking, going up and down stairs like my old self.”
Dr. Akar says AFib patients undergoing ablation by heating are good candidates for his study.
So far, it has been successful for every patient.