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22nd November 2018

Minimally Invasive treatment to get the heart back on track

Former marathon runner, Martin Taylor, was left frustrated and low when Atrial Fibrillation (AF) stopped him in his tracks. But a minimally invasive medical procedure has ensured he’s back to pounding the pavements.

“I have an office job, I travel a lot, I run for exercise to keep my weight down and generally live a healthy lifestyle,” Martin says. “My Atrial Fibrillation came on very suddenly – it actually happened at my daughter’s wedding. Weddings can be stressful, especially when you’re the father of the bride!”, he tells This Is MedTech.

“Towards the end of the evening we were having a party, and suddenly I felt my heart speeding up, beating much faster than usual, I had palpitations in my chest and just didn’t feel good.”

The next day, Martin took himself to the Accident & Emergency (A&E) department at his local hospital. But as he was hooked up to a heart scanner, the palpitations stopped, and he felt fine again. However, over the next four years, he continued to slip in and out of Atrial Fibrillation, which impacted his quality of life and ability to run.

AF is characterized by an irregular and often fast heart rhythm that results in uncoordinated contraction of the top two chambers of the heart. The irregular heart rhythm may cause blood clots, as blood can pool in the heart before being pumped into the brain causing an AF related stroke.

Martin says: “Things got worse for me back in April this year. I woke up in the middle of the night with my heart racing and feeling pretty dreadful – I thought it must have been something I’d eaten. I had to travel overseas for work the next day so got on the plane still feeling rubbish but hoped it would go away as it had previously.” But Martin spent his whole trip in Atrial Fibrillation and went straight to A&E on his return home. There, it was confirmed that he was in persistent AF and he would need to take Beta Blockers, a medication to help slow his heart rate.

But tablets still didn’t hold his heart in rhythm and Martin continued to feel unwell, so it was decided to proceed with Catheter Ablation treatment, a well-established procedure to control the heart rhythm in the longer term. It involves a minimally invasive approach, with a specialist cardiologist, an Electrophysiologist using a fine wire administered through the patient’s groin to deliver a high-speed frequency to treat the abnormal signals causing the palpitations.

“After the catheter ablation treatment, I was discharged the next day and straight back into my normal life. The effect was instantaneous – I had no palpitations, no breathlessness and my full quality of life was restored. I was able to go running again right away and I’ve had no ill effects, no pain or no significant recovery period since.”, he comments.

“It might sound a bit scary the idea of somebody poking around in your heart, but as a way of stopping the condition from happening, the treatment is very effective and it’s clearly much better for you if you’re living without having to be on medication all the time. Being restored to full health feels wonderful!”, Martin says.