Convergent procedure is new option for irregular heartbeat

Convergent procedure is new option for irregular heartbeat
Jim Worstell
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Indianapolis - There is a new way to treat an irregular heartbeat. The St. Vincent Heart Center of Indiana was the first in the state to perform what's called a convergent procedure.

It's a hybrid ablation and laproscopic surgery performed by two specialists.

The cardio-thoracic surgeon and the electro-physiologist work simultaneously in the operating room. One works through four catheters threaded through the groin to the heart. The other makes a second smaller incision under the ribcage to operate on the outside of the heart. To date, they've performed five.

57-year-old Jim Worstell from Greencastle had the traditional ablation procedure first and it didn't work. He took blood thinners and then opted to become the second patient in Indiana to try the hybrid.

"It was getting to where the medications themselves were more and more potent and the side effects were potentially much more harmful," he said. "You think if they were going to do two procedures that would increase amount of time on the table but it didn't. It cut it in half. I think I was on there maybe four hours instead of seven or eight hours and the outcome was much better with the double procedure than it was with the single procedure."

About 15 percent of strokes occur because of an irregular heart beat. The blood pools, which can form a clot and cause a stroke.

If you have atrial fibrillation and your doctor has indicated you would have limited success with the traditional ablation, you might be a good candidate for this. Ask your doctor about the convergent procedure.