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Health Team

New Procedure Could Help Heart Patients

Posted February 13, 2008 2:52 p.m. EST
Updated February 13, 2008 9:32 p.m. EST

— A Moore County doctor has created a new procedure that could help 5 million Americans who have a serious heart condition that could lead to stroke or heart failure.

Dr. Andy Kiser of First Health Moore Regional helped develop the procedure and has been training surgeons worldwide.

One of his patients is Jon Woods, 65, who noticed that he was getting unusually tired. He attributed his shortness of breath to smoking and being overweight, he said.

After seeing a doctor, tests showed that Woods had atrial fibrillation.

“The non-medical description would be that the upper two chambers of the heart don't beat. They really just sort of mush around,” Woods said.

“The biggest worry we have is a stroke,” Kiser said. “As the blood doesn't empty, it becomes stagnant. It doesn't move. It can form a clot.”

When medication or a catheter procedure didn’t work, the last option was open-heart surgery, Kiser said.

“(They) crack the chest, stop the heart, hook you up to the heart-lung machine, cut the heart (and) sew it back together. (It) didn't sound very appealing,” Woods said.

Kiser, however, helped develop an open-heart technique that uses a special ablation coil to create scars around the beating heart. The scars redirect electrical current and restore normal heart rhythm.

“We can now treat those people without having to open their chest or even stop their heart,” he said.

Kiser can do the procedure through a few small incisions.

Most patients, like Jon Woods, go into normal rhythm during the procedure.

“I haven't felt this good in I don't know how long – a long, long, long time,” Woods said.

Many people can manage their condition with medication or other options, but some people go years without controlling the problem. They often stop short of open-heart surgery because of the risks.

With a simpler procedure and a shorter hospital stay, though, many more people might be willing to face surgery and get help.