High resolution imaging greatly aids physicians treating irregular heart beats

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The findings of a new study published in the Journal of Cardiovascular Electrophysiology demonstrate that the use of high resolution imaging can greatly aid physicians who are treating patients suffering from a particular type of irregular heart beat.

The study, conducted at the Taipei Veterans General Hospital in Taipei, Taiwan, provides insight into the mechanism of atrial flutter, a common heart rhythm disturbance that circulates around the atria, or top chambers of the human heart. Three-dimensional illustrations of the electrical pathways in 26 patients with atrial flutter documented multiple patterns of abnormal contractions through the heart, contractions that could have been missed by more conventional diagnostic methods.

“We were able to show that 3D mapping in our patients uncovered additional abnormal electrical circuits,” says Dr. Ching-Tai Tai, author of the published article. “These were subsequently eliminated using radiofrequency heat energy delivered through a catheter in the heart to destroy a critical part of the atrial tissue that was causing the irregular beats and cure the patients.”

According to JCE Editor-in-Chief, Eric N. Prystowsky, atrial flutter is a problem cardiologists deal with very often. “Atrial flutter is a common disorder that can occur in patients with heart disease, but more commonly in those with conditions such as coronary artery disease and hypertension, and in patients who have had cardiac surgery. A better understanding of the mechanisms of atrial flutter and how to map the disorder in humans will lead to improved cure rates.”

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