Beaumont First in Michigan to Participate in National Research Study of New Atrial Fibrillation Treatment

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First patients enrolled in trial of catheter ablation device that can see inside a beating heart and uses laser energy to treat atrial fibrillation

First patients enrolled in trial of catheter ablation device that can see inside a beating heart and uses laser energy to treat atrial fibrillation

Beaumont Health System has enrolled its first patients in a multicenter, randomized research trial to study a new technology to treat atrial fibrillation, the most common heart rhythm disorder, affecting 2.3 million people in the U.S.

Called the HeartLight® Endoscopic Ablation System, it is the first technology that allows cardiologists to see inside a beating heart while performing laser energy catheter ablation, a treatment aimed at restoring normal heart rhythm after medication has failed. Beaumont is the only center in Michigan participating in this study and one of the first in the U.S. to begin enrollment.

The trial will compare the effectiveness of the new HeartLight EAS, using laser (light) energy to heat and destroy heart tissue to block erratic electrical signals causing a-fib, with traditional catheter ablation systems that use radiofrequency (electrical) energy.

The HeartLight incorporates a small camera, or endoscope, that allows cardiologists to see inside a beating heart on a monitor to more precisely deliver the ablation energy. While the technology is only available at trial sites in the U.S., it is currently used at medical centers throughout Europe.

“As a leader in the treatment of atrial fibrillation, we are pleased to be involved in testing this new treatment that may benefit our patients, and ultimately a-fib patients throughout the country,” says Ilana Kutinsky, D.O, Beaumont electrophysiologist and principal investigator. “Beaumont has been involved with research of the HeartLight EAS technology since the initial U.S. feasibility trial in 2010, and we are pleased to be involved in this important step in the Food and Drug Administration approval process.

Beaumont plans to enroll 43 patients in the study who have paroxysmal (intermittent) atrial fibrillation. They will be randomized to receive treatment with the HeartLight, or to have standard radiofrequency ablation. A total of about 350 participants will be randomly enrolled in the study, at up to 25 centers in the U.S. The results of the two groups will be compared.

“What makes this device unique is its ability to allow doctors to directly see inside the heart in real-time while performing the ablation, which may reduce the likelihood that a patient will need a repeat procedure,” explains Dr. Kutinsky. “Traditional ablation does not provide direct visual guidance.”

To qualify for study participation, patients must be 18 to 75 years of age, have intermittent atrial fibrillation and have failed treatment with anti-arrhythmic drugs.

Participants will receive a medical history; physical exam; an electrocardiogram (showing the heart’s electrical activity);a transthoracic echocardiogram (an ultrasound picture of the heart); a CT scan or magnetic resonance imaging (to show heart structures) and blood tests.

For more information on the study please visit

For enrollment information, please call the Beaumont Atrial Fibrillation Center at 248-898-6575.

About Atrial Fibrillation Treatment

Atrial fibrillation is the rapid and uncontrolled beating of the upper chambers of the heart. It is caused by abnormal electrical signals originating in the pulmonary veins, which connect the lungs to the heart.

People with atrial fibrillation have a higher risk of stroke and may also experience palpitations, chest discomfort, weakness, fainting and breathlessness. Traditionally, patients will take blood-thinning medications to prevent blood clots from forming in the heart, as well as anti-arrhythmia drugs that attempt to restore normal heart rhythm. These medications require frequent monitoring and have diet and drug interactions.

When medication is no longer successful, a minimally invasive catheter ablation is often considered by physicians. Catheter ablation is a minimally invasive procedure for treating a-fib that aims to block these abnormal electrical signals from reaching the rest of the heart by creating scars on the heart tissue around the pulmonary veins. However, research shows that standard catheter ablation may have limited effectiveness after a single procedure, and patients may require multiple procedures before experiencing long lasting relief from a-fib symptoms.

About Beaumont Heart Care

Beaumont is Michigan’s, and one of the nation’s, most experienced providers of heart care, ranking on U.S. News & World Report’s 2011-12 “America’s Best Hospitals” list for cardiology and heart surgery. The Beaumont Heart Center is a comprehensive, state-of-the-art facility that’s dedicated to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of heart problems. Beaumont’s Ernst Cardiovascular Center includes six specialty clinics offering advanced and minimally invasive treatments for heart valve disease, atrial fibrillation, congestive heart failure, aortic aneurysm and dissection, plus preventive screening for adults and high school students. Beaumont’s Ministrelli Women’s Heart Center is the first in Michigan devoted exclusively to the prevention, diagnosis, and research of heart disease in women.

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Brian Bierley
Beaumont Hospitals
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