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Afib News

New Treatments, Medications, and Studies of Afib



HIFU Procedure
The HIFU (High Intensity Focused Ultrasound) is a cutting-edge treatment which uses ultrasound energy rather than the traditional radiofrequency radiation used in ablations. This non-invasive procedure involves placing a band around the heart which delivers ultrasound energy in a controlled manner to the heart tissues. The result is the formation of lesions in heart tissue which block the errant electrical impulses that cause afib. This technique has a great future because it does not involve open heart surgery and is more easily controlled than procedures which involve entry into the heart.
At the recent American College of Cardiology Convention in Orlando, Florida, it was reported that the use of aspirin in women under 65 to avoid heart problems and stroke is not as effective as in men and women over 65.  In an unexpected outcome, a study involving 40,000 women who were at least age 45 showed that aspirin used by women under 65 reduced the risk of stroke, such as that caused by afib, by only 17 percent, which is significant only because women suffer more strokes than men do.  The reason for the gender and age differences in usefulness of aspirin is not known, but some speculate that the results may be due to the protective effect of estrogen in younger women.  For more information, see the current JAMA.
For those who live in the Boston, MA area or who are able to travel there,  this announcement  from the Atrial Fibrillation Foundation [Boston, MA] may be of interest.  They are holding their fourth annual Atrial Fibrillation Patient Education
Day in Boston, MA, US, on October 8, 2005.  The one-day conference will begin at 8:00 a.m. with registration and a continental breakfast. (Editorial comment:  probably decaf or no coffee!)  The program will begin promptly at 9:00 a.m.  Lecturing physicians are with the Cardiac Arrhythmia Service at the Massachusetts General Hospital, and the program will consist of a series of lectures with a question and answer session after each lecture.  A copy of the agenda will be sent with your confirmation letter.  For information on the conference and parking fees, contact
Atrial Fibrillation Foundation
  PO Box 249
  Reading, MA  01867
  (617) 726-1095
Because high blood pressure is an afib trigger, this new research finding
could be related to afib.  However, the incidence of afib in relation to the use of pain relievers may be mitigated by other factors such as additional medication and an individual person's innate tendency toward high blood pressure.  As always, the fact that we are all different may modify this finding, I think.  
On Aug. 16 Reuters Health published the information
<<that higher daily doses of some commonly used non-aspirin pain-relievers increase the risk of high blood pressure in women, the results of two studies suggest. "Our results have substantial public health implications," the researchers write, "and suggest that these agents be used with greater caution."  Although previous research has indicated a link between high blood pressure, also referred to as hypertension, and analgesic use, those analyses failed to take into account drug doses and the reasons for their use, Dr. John P. Forman and colleagues note in their report the medical journal Hypertension. >>
To read the full report on this news, go to
To read this entire report, go to the URL listed after the quotation.

<<Mar 02 (Reuters Health) - Getting mad does not literally make the blood
''boil,'' but new research shows that anger and hostility may increase the risk of
a heart-rhythm disorder that has been linked with stroke.  The findings suggest that anger management could be a promising way to reduce the risk of the rhythm disorder, known as atrial fibrillation, according to the study's lead author.
SOURCE: Circulation advance online edition, March 2, 2004.

Publish Date: March 02, 2004
To read the article quoted in part below, go to this URL:
<<Aug 01 (Reuters Health) - Oral vitamin C appears to cut the risk of early
recurrence of abnormal health rhythm, as know as atrial fibrillation, after
patients undergo electrical cardioversion, according to a new study. Vitamin C also
appears to reduce the low-level inflammation that accompanies this condition.
Early atrial fibrillation recurrence after cardioversion may be due to
electrophysiological changes in the chambers of the heart, known as atrial
remodeling, Dr. Panagiotis Korantzopoulos of 'G. Hatzikosta' General Hospital in
Ioannina, Greece, and colleagues report in the International Journal of Cardiology.
Animal studies have shown vitamin C can help prevent such remodeling, they
note, and the vitamin has been shown to reduce atrial fibrillation after cardiac
SOURCE: International Journal of Cardiology, July 2005.
Publish Date: August 01, 2005
Because afib is related to inflammation, anything that reduces inflammation could have a favorable effect on afib.  Although the article quoted here challenges the role of vitamin C in preventing heart problems, it seems that this idea is worth further research and investigation.
To read the quoted article below in its entirety, go to the URL listed below.

<<Aug 08 (Reuters Health) - High blood levels of vitamin C have been associated
with lower heart attack risk, but now UK researchers say socioeconomic status
may account for the relationship. In other words, well-off people have less illness and high levels of vitamins, but the two are not necessarily connected. While studies of a cross-section of a population have tied vitamin C intake to coronary heart disease, controlled trials to see if vitamin C wards off heart trouble have shown no effect, Dr. Debbie A. Lawlor of the University of Bristol and colleagues note in the medical journal Heart. >>
SOURCE: Heart, August 2005.

<<Apr 07 (HealthCentersOnline) - New technology employing a
robotically-guided catheter may offer a significant improvement in the treatment
of atrial
Atrial fibrillation is a rapid, abnormal heart rhythm caused by abnormal
electrical impulses that begin in the upper chambers of the heart (atria). As a
result, the heart's lower chambers (the ventricles) beat rapidly and
Radio frequency ablation is a procedure in which a physician guides a
catheter through a blood vessel into the heart. Once positioned, the catheter
uses a
radio frequency pulse to destroy (ablate) very small, carefully selected areas
of the heart that are causing the irregular signals, helping the heart to
beat normally again.
Traditionally, a physician would manually push a stiff catheter through the
blood vessels and into position. The success of such a procedure depends highly
on the skill of the physician, and the chances for complications are high
with inexperienced operators.
New technology allows a physician to provide safer ablation treatment by
using a remotely-controlled catheter device. The technique uses a
robotically-controlled magnetic navigation system that allows a team of
operators to guide the
catheter tip in three dimensions while using a scan of the patient's heart to
visualize the progress.
The catheter used in the robotic procedure also uses a soft, limp tip that
further reduces the chance for complications.
When used on patients with atrial fibrillation, the robotic system
successfully guided the catheter into position in 38 of the 40 participants.
patients were all unable to adequately control their conditions with medication.
There were no complications with the procedures.
"Based on our results, we believe that incorporation of remote navigation and
ablation in the electrophysiology laboratory may represent a true revolution
regardless of age and experience of the operators leading to a seismic change
in electrophysiologic paradigms for many laboratories worldwide. People always
have had a love/hate relationship with robots, but this psychological barrier
must be overcome. After performing more than 10,000 procedures with manually
deflectable catheters, I have become enthusiastic for this emerging field,"
explained Carlo Pappone, M.D., Ph.D. from the Department of Electrophysiology,
San Raffaele University Hospital in Milan, in a recent press release. >>
The results of the study were published in an April issue of the Journal of
the American College of Cardiology.
Copyright 2000-2006 HealthCentersOnline, Inc.
Publish Date: April 07, 2006



Family - Three Generations

Afib can strike at any age and sometimes occurs in more than one family member.

Recent and Future Events

Boston Symposium
American College of Cardiology Convention (Orlando, Florida)
Maze Alumni Reunion April 22, 23, 2005
Atrial Fibrillation Foundation Patient Education Day Oct. 8, 2005


Let us know if there are any events or updates you would like to share with fellow members.

Atrial Fib Discussion Group