This new treatment for a problem affecting millions of Americans is helping doctors do something they've never done before.
"It felt like my heart was going to explode," Bret Story, who suffers from atrial fibrillation, told Action News. "I thought I was probably having a heart attack."
That was Bret Story's first episode of atrial fibrillation, a condition that causes your heart to beat fast and out of rhythm. It's the most common form of arrhythmia and can lead to stroke or heart attack. Bret says over those years it happened more and more.
"Out of breath and zero energy," Bret said.
Bret was picked to be one of the first people to undergo a new procedure. The HeartLight is a balloon catheter with a camera inserted through a tiny hole in the groin, giving doctors a new way to burn away the problem.
"We can actually look into the heart, which is fascinating," Dr. David E. Haines from Beaumont Hospital said. "To actually see the heart, the beating heart and to actually see the target right there in front of us."
Doctor David Haines says traditional ablation treatments that purposely damage problem areas in the heart to fix it, aren't too precise.
"Very difficult to manipulate the catheter around," Dr. Haines said.
He tells us the beating heart images he sees with the HeartLight allow him to aim and fire the laser more accurately to make a perfect line of burns around the problem area.
"Well, that's very powerful," Dr. Haines says.
It's been two years since Bret's HeartLight treatment. He hasn't had an a-fib episode since.
"I can do anything I used to do," Bret said.
Doctor Haines says the HeartLight is designed for patients whose atrial fibrillation starts and stops by itself. People with chronic a-fib would need more treatment on top of the HeartLight procedure.
Recruiting for phase three trials of the HeartLight are going on right now at sites across the country. to learn more go to clinicaltrials.gov
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