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The Heart's Conduction System
Cardiac Arrhythmias
Therapy Options
  Mapping System
Patient Stories

Medication – a therapy that suppresses arrhythmias.
Antiarrhythmic drugs are often the first method diagnosed to manage an arrhythmia. Drugs do not cure an arrhythmia, but they can be used to suppress the arrhythmia. Effects of the drugs can vary between patients, and patients are often monitored in a hospital setting when an antiarrhythmic drug is first administered.

Medications can become intolerable and cause side effects. Furthermore, taking medication two or three times per day can become a nuisance.

Some patients with ICDs also receive drugs to reduce the occurrence of arrhythmias.

Implantable Cardioverter/Defibrillators (ICD) – a therapy that treats arrhythmias when they do occur.
An ICD is a small device that is implanted in a patient’s chest. When an arrhythmia occurs, the ICD can detect the arrhythmia and apply therapy in the form of electrical pacing or shocks to stop the arrhythmia. ICDs also record the arrhythmia for your doctor’s reference.

After receiving an ICD, the patient will need to periodically visit an ICD clinic. At the clinic, the doctor will review the information recorded in the ICD (to determine if any therapies or shocks have occurred), reprogram the therapy levels if necessary, and check the battery level. When the battery energy is depleted, the ICD will need to be replaced (typically, once every four to eight years).

While ICDs can detect and treat arrhythmias when they occur, like antiarrhythmic drugs, ICDs do not cure the disease that causes an arrhythmia.

Ablation – a curative therapy.
Ablation is a relatively new technique used to treat the cause of an arrhythmia.

In an ablation procedure, an electrophysiologist maps the heart to find the precise area(s) that are causing the arrhythmia. Then, the electrophysiologist uses a special catheter to apply radio frequency energy to the arrhythmia focus site. The energy alters the tissue, making it nonconductive and interrupting the abnormal circuit.

Typically, ablation is a painless, outpatient procedure involving local anesthesia.

In order to use ablation effectively, the electrophysiologist must be able to locate the precise locations that are causing the arrhythmia. The procedure used to locate these sites is called endocardial mapping.

Conventional mapping for ablation: In conventional mapping, diagnostic catheters are placed in several locations inside the heart chamber. Electrophysiologists examine the electrical signals from these catheters to diagnose the arrhythmia. Often, an electrophysiologist will map the heart by moving a catheter around the heart, stimulating different areas of the heart tissue. Conventional mapping can be time-consuming, and often it is difficult to pinpoint the source of an arrhythmia.

Non-contact mapping for ablation (the   3000® System): Non-contact mapping is an advanced method of mapping the heart that allows an electrophysiologist to simultaneously view all of the electrical activity inside a heart chamber. By viewing this electrical activity on a three-dimensional map, the physician is able to precisely locate the problem areas. The three-dimensional map simulates having over 3000 conventional catheter electrodes in the cardiac chamber at one time.

Non-contact mapping procedures using the   3000® System have been performed on thousands of patients worldwide.


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Amiodarone, a common antiarrhythmic medication.

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ICDs are usually implanted in the shoulder area.

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In ablation, a controlled burst of radiofrequency energy from the tip of a catheter modifies the tissue that maintains the arrhythmia.

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Conventional mapping requires placing several EP catheters on the tissue of the heart.

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Noncontact mapping allows physicians to map an entire heart chamber simultan-eously, while minimizing the number of catheters placed in the heart.

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