Cardiac arrest is a dramatic event and patients who survive that or who are at risk for that often come in to discuss their options of protecting themselves. The main option we offer them as a defibrillator: a device implanted that would help deliver shocks to reset the heart if that were to happen.
These devices have become fancier and fancier as time has gone on and they have many features. Some of them involve multiple site pacemakers, ability to detect fluid overload for such as heart failure, to detect different arrhythmias like atrial fibrillation that can predispose you to stroke, and unfortunately no one device encompasses all of these so you have to kind of pick amongst the options available for the features that would best suit you and your future anticipated needs
Atrial fibrillation (AF or A-fib) is an abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia) characterized by rapid and irregular beating of the atrial chambers of the heart.
As a cardiac electrophysiologist, one of the most common conditions I treat is atrial fibrillation. It is a huge healthcare burden and a very common problem. It creates two sets of issues for the patient.
One is it increases their risk of stroke and number two is it just doesn’t feel good to be in atrial fibrillation. There’s a large quality of life component to it. The risk of stroke is addressed through either medications or devices. Previously, all we had was rat poison, warfarin, and now new medications have emerged, but also devices that help include the area that the strokes emerge to reduce your risk of stroke.
The second issue with atrial fibrillation is symptoms. Atrial fibrillation does not feel well and dramatically impacts quality of life. Traditionally, it was medications used to treat this condition. Unfortunately, these are not perfect. You can have recurrences. They often have nasty side effects.
Catheter ablation has emerged as a technology to help treat atrial fibrillation without medications and this has rapidly improved to many technologies including using laser, high-frequency ultrasound, freezing it, and heat to treat the various areas that the atrial fibrillation can emerge from.