Cardiac arrhythmias are among the most common heart ailments facing people of all ages. This condition, where the heart beats in an irregular manner, may occur in individuals with a healthy heart or those with a history of heart ailments. Arrhythmias stem from a variety of causes ranging from birth abnormalities, electrolyte imbalances in the blood (including potassium or sodium), or coronary artery disease. The Arrhythmia Research Program at Piedmont’s Fuqua Heart Center provides a full spectrum of inpatient and outpatient research activities for patients with arrhythmia disorders. The program focuses on identifying the source of cardiac arrhythmias, evaluating the safety and efficacy of innovative treatments of heart rhythm diseases, and improving the health and well-being of patients diagnosed with cardiac arrhythmias.
First-line treatment for many arrhythmias is non-invasive treatment with drugs. When medicative therapy fails, the arrhythmia may be treated with radiofrequency (RF) energy (heat energy) or by cryoablation, which applies freezing energy to destroy abnormal tissue(s) in the heart that is the source of the arrhythmia. Currently, the research program is investigating alternative treatments for atrial fibrillation, a primary form of cardiac arrhythmia.
These investigations are exploring alternative energy treatments for pulmonary vein isolation. One type of energy treatment utilizes a cryoablation catheter system that employs a balloon to deliver the cryo energy in treating atrial fibrillation originating from the pulmonary veins in the left side of the heart. A second type of energy treatment under investigation involves the use of high-intensity focused ultrasound. This treatment employs a generator and catheter to apply the high-intensity focused ultrasound energy, which will enable the isolation of the heart’s pulmonary veins.
Because extra heartbeats emanating from the pulmonary veins are a primary source of atrial fibrillation, researchers at the Fuqua Heart Center of Atlanta are testing the safety and efficacy of these investigational devices that create a permanent tissue response around the opening of each of the four pulmonary veins to electrically isolate them from the rest of the heart.
The arrhythmia program at the Fuqua Heart Center of Atlanta has received national recognition for excellence. The program employs a multidisciplinary approach to research that is helping to bring new treatments, therapies and technologies to the forefront of the treatment of arrhythmia disorders.
Each day, the arrhythmia research team, along with physicians and medical professionals, work to improve patient care by providing patients with a greater range of options and access to the latest technology –all leading to the highest-quality care possible. This includes a broad portfolio of clinical trials to treat arrhythmia disorders. Current clinical trials focus on:
- Cardiac Resynchronization for Chronic Heart Failure
- Atrial Fibrillation
- Ablation for Complex Arrhythmias
- Sudden Death Prevention
- Post-MI Pacing for Remodeling Prevention
To learn more about arrhythmia research or to see what studies are currently enrolling patients with arrhythmia diseases, please visit www.fuquaheartcenter.org and click on Research, or call 404-605-2409.