AUSTIN, Texas, Aug. 31 /PRNewswire/ -- Atrial Fibrillation (A Fib) — a type of heart rhythm disorder that affects the electrical system, or "wiring," of the heart muscle — is often referred to as the "silent killer," and can suddenly trigger a massive, debilitating stroke or even death. During September — National Atrial Fibrillation Awareness Month — physicians at the Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia Institute (TCAI) at St. David's Medical Center are working to raise awareness about life-changing treatment options, and even cures, for this potentially fatal condition.
"When I was first diagnosed, my former physician told me I could no longer run due to my arrhythmia," April Watkins, a patient who was treated at TCAI, said. "As a marathon runner and athlete, this news was devastating to me. Doctors at TCAI worked with me to find a solution. After undergoing cardiac ablation in 2004, I am now cured and able to do what I love."
A Fib affects about 2.2 million people in the United States. Approximately 15 percent of strokes occur in patients with A Fib.
"Cardiac ablation isn't just a treatment option; in many cases, patients can be cured of this condition," Andrea Natale, M.D., F.A.C.C., electrophysiologist and executive medical director of TCAI, said. "These procedures can reduce or eliminate the need for blood-thinning medications often used to treat A Fib. This is important because long-term use of such medications carries significant risk."
While treating or curing A Fib is necessary to reduce the risk of stroke, identifying the condition is equally important. Symptoms of A Fib often are subtle, but the result of an untreated condition can be dramatic. Those symptoms include:
- Palpitations, or "skipped" heartbeats.
- A "fluttering" sensation in the chest or neck.
- Fainting or near-fainting spells.
- Rapid heartbeat or pounding.
- Shortness of breath.
- Chest pain.
Each year, more than 600,000 people are hospitalized in the United States for treatment of cardiac arrhythmias. According to the Heart Rhythm Society, fewer than 30 percent of people with A Fib are receiving proper treatment — with or without medication. Each year, A Fib accounts for approximately 88,000 deaths across the country and costs the U.S. health care system nearly $16 billion.
TCAI — an international treatment, training and research center — is one of the world's most comprehensive centers dedicated to the latest treatment advances for correcting A Fib and other heart rhythm disorders. It is led by Natale, a world-renowned expert on abnormal heart rhythms, such as A Fib. Natale is at the forefront of the advancement of treatment for A Fib, leading numerous clinical trials and participating in the development of new technologies and procedures. Physicians at TCAI have served as pioneers in innovative treatment techniques and technology, and made extraordinary strides in physician training and clinical research related to heart rhythm disorders. TCAI is a partnership between St. David's HealthCare and the physician group, Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia.
During National Atrial Fibrillation Awareness Month, TCAI will host two free seminars highlighting the most effective ways to treat and correct A Fib.
The first seminar will be held on Thursday, September 16, 2010, from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the St. David's Medical Center medical office building, located at 3000 N. IH35 (on the corner of 30th Street and IH35; enter the parking garage from 30th Street). It will feature G. Joseph Gallinghouse, M.D., an electrophysiologist at TCAI.
A second seminar, which will include an open house event, is scheduled for Wednesday, September 29, 2010, from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. It will also be held in the St. David's Medical Center medical office building, and will feature J. David Burkhardt, M.D., an electrophysiologist at TCAI.
To register for either of these free seminars, call 512.544.AFIB (2342).
Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia Institute at St. David's Medical Center
Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia Institute at St. David's Medical Center (TCAI) is one of the world's preeminent centers dedicated to the latest treatment advances for correcting abnormal heart rhythms such as Atrial Fibrillation (A Fib). The center is led by Executive Medical Director Andrea Natale, M.D., a world-renowned expert in the field. Natale is at the forefront of advancing treatment for A Fib, leading numerous clinical trials and participating in the development of new technologies and procedures. For more information, please visit TCAInstitute.com.
St. David's Medical Center
St. David's Medical Center, located at 919 East 32nd Street off of IH35, is owned by St. David's HealthCare, one of the largest health systems in Texas. Founded in 1924, St. David's Medical Center includes a 347-bed, acute care hospital, and a dedicated 64-bed Rehabilitation Hospital providing comprehensive inpatient and outpatient care. St. David's Medical Center is home to the renowned NeuroTexas Institute, (including the TIA Center for Stroke Prevention and designation as a Primary Stroke Center); the acclaimed Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia Institute; high-level women's services with Level I, II and III nurseries; a Bariatric Center of Excellence; the Breast Center; orthopedic services; and a 24-hour emergency department. In 2010, St. David's Medical Center was named to the list of 100 Top Hospitals by Thomson Reuters, a leading provider of information and solutions to improve the cost and quality of healthcare. For more information, please visit StDavids.com.
Erin Ochoa or Levente Smith
Elizabeth Christian & Associates Public Relations
SOURCE Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia Institute at St. David's Medical Center