New attack on irregular heartbeat

A Canadian-led study suggests performing a “double burn” of cardiovascular tissue is the most effective way to treat patients with an irregular heartbeat known as atrial fibrillation.

TORONTO — A Canadian-led study suggests performing a “double burn” of cardiovascular tissue is the most effective way to treat patients with an irregular heartbeat known as atrial fibrillation.

Researchers found that burning tissue around pulmonary veins to create a scar that blocks abnormal signals to the heart, then adding a newer procedure that burns “hot spots” in the heart itself helps patients the most.

The study found that 74 per cent of patients given both treatments had no signs of atrial fibrillation after the one-year study.

That compares to 47 per cent who had only pulmonary vein tissue burned and 29 per cent who received just “hot spot” therapy.

Atrial fibrillation causes the upper chambers of the heart to beat erratically and affects the organ’s ability to properly pump blood.

About 200,000 Canadians suffer from the condition that causes up to 20 per cent of all strokes and contributes to heart failure.

The study led by Dr. Atul Verma of Southlake Regional Health Centre north of Toronto was presented Thursday at the Heart Rhythm Society’s meeting in Boston.

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