JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The CDC estimates that more than 12 million people will have AFib by 2030.
AFib is short for atrial fibrillation, which is an irregular and often fast heart rhythm that can lead to blood clots in the heart.
Ascension St. Vincent’s is one of only five hospitals in the United States to enroll patients in a study examining how artificial intelligence could change the treatment of Afib.
The new technology is called “Volta VX1”. It gives doctors like Saumil Oza at Ascension St. Vincent’s a new way to treat patients with AFib.
“It calculates through a separate system from the electrical signatures,” Oza said. “It analyzes them. It guides us and marks the areas in the heart that we think are important for us to remove. A lot of these areas are areas that I wouldn’t have even thought of looking into otherwise.”
It seems to do the job for Steven Preis, who has been dealing with Afib for several years now. He had a serious episode more than a decade ago.
“I went to the emergency room and I was so out of breath, all I can get out of my mouth was ‘heart,'” Preis said. “I remember my son saying, ‘Dad, I can see your heart beating through your chest.'”
People with Afib typically have an increased risk of stroke, heart failure, and other heart-related complications.
dr. Oza said this new way of treating AFib patients is a breath of fresh air when other methods like ablations don’t work in patients like Preis.
“It really gives me another tool to help my patients,” he said. “The end goal is to make my patients feel better, live longer, healthier and more productive; AFib really puts a damper on that.”
Preis is one of more than 30 patients in the Jacksonville area to receive the treatment. Preis said his Afib is now gone.
The way he made sure of it was by going to the Giants-Buccaneers game with his son last season.
“We were walking and yes, I was panting and huffing a bit,” Preis said. “But then it just started to get better, and better, and better. Now I could really be outside when it’s damp outside, and not sigh and blow and have trouble breathing.”
While still in the pilot phase for this new treatment, Dr. Oza there is a promise.
“It gives hope to a lot of patients that we didn’t really have many answers for otherwise,” Oza said.
“There is light at the end of the tunnel,” Preis said. “You don’t have to have AFib anymore.”
Oza said he and his team will be using and analyzing this technology for a while. He expects enrollment for the clinical trial to be completed within the next year.
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