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Cardiac Ablation: A Procedure to Fix Abnormal Heart Rhythms

Cardiac ablation is a procedure that destroys the tissue in the heart that causes abnormal heart rhythms. Doctors can access the blood vessels through the groin, allowing an easier recovery for patients. Cardiologists Nishaki Mehta, MD, and Kevin Bilchick, MD, discuss the catheter-based ablation procedure, which treats atrial fibrillation and other irregular heartbeat conditions.

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NISHAKI MEHTA: Ablation procedures are techniques to destroy irregular or abnormal electrical circuits, such as atrial fibrillation, premature or extra heartbeats, and conditions such as ventricular tachycardia. These are done by identifying the area of the abnormal circuitry and destroying it with the application of heat energy or freezing that abnormal heart tissue.

KEVIN BILCHICK: For atrial fibrillation catheter ablation is a great option for a number of patients. In particular patients with symptomatic atrial fibrillation are the best candidates. We want to make the atrial fibrillation ablation procedure as easy for patients as possible. We've come up with some advances that I think make the recovery better for patients and make the procedure more effective.

NISHAKI MEHTA: Most ablations are performed by putting IV lines through the groins. Both our groins have a series of blood vessels that combine together in the abdomen and drain into the top right chamber of the heart. This provides the route to send our ablation equipment in the heart. The electrical wires help me determine or localize the areas of scar and I target these scar areas with the ablation catheter.

KEVIN BILCHICK: Patients do really well after the procedure because we're able to do the procedure with access, typically only from a vein on one leg and this vein closes off very nicely after the procedure is over, with a little bit of pressure. We're able to optimize the medications in the short-term to speed up recovery.

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