New catheter improves outcomes for abnormal heart beat

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. --- Three million Americans suffer from atrial fibrillation, which is a condition that increases heart failure and stroke.

A new catheter is now being used by cardiologists at Baptist Medical Center in order to help patients who have abnormal heart rhythm.

The THERMOCOOL SmartTOUCH Catheter is used for ablation procedures for patients suffering from Afib. Baptist Medical center was the first hospital in North Florida to start the procedure in early Spring. The catheter helps to improve patient outcomes, increase safety and for Jacksonville-native, Joy Seilier, it helped her get back to what she calls, 'normal life.'

Seilier, 55, was diagnosed with Afib in 2012. After a few years, her condition worsened and she stopped driving and stopped going to church. However, the most difficult part of the condition was the precious moments it took away with her eight grandchildren.

"I didn't want them going in the pool with me in case I had an episode. I was afraid for them to be around me by myself," said Seilier.

So, in May, she opted for the new procedure.

The Baptist Heart Specialist team, Venkata Sagi, MD, Chris Rulsi, MD, and Scott Lee, MD, have used the catheter procedure on more than 50 patients. Seilier was a perfect candidate for the new technology.

Doctor Lee says, "the new catheter that we are using is an improvement on the standards catheter, which not only allows us to make deeper burns than the standard catheter but also allows us to use a sensor so we know exactly how much pressure we are putting on the heart when we are doing the cauterization and by knowing how much pressure you are putting on the heart at all times, it makes the procedure more thorough, safer and more effective."

Lee says the catheter is helping in stroke and blood clot prevention.

For Seilier, the procedure changed her life and her granddaughter Mariah, notices the difference.

"I love that she plays with us and is active with us," said Mariah.


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