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A-Fib: Laser Balloon Saves the Day

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MIAMI, Fla. (WGEM) — Atrial fibrillation, also called A-Fib or AF, is an irregular heartbeat.

It’s a serious condition that if left untreated can cause stroke, blood clots and even heart failure.

But now there’s a new FDA-approved device that is giving heart surgeons the upper hand when it comes to treating A-Fib.

45-year-old Felicia Hunter loves to exercise to keep her heart healthy.

But just a few months ago, her heart gave her the scare of her life.

“My heart started to beat really, really fast, uncontrollably. It was going 200 beats per minute,” Felicia Hunter recalled.

She was rushed to the hospital where she was diagnosed with A-Fib.

“And instead of the heart beating as it should, it kind of wiggles like a bag of worms,” described David Kenigsberg, MD, FACC, FHRS, Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiologist and EP lab director, at Westside Regional Medical.

At the start of their condition, patients typically have short episodes.

“And as time goes on, they have more and more episodes. The episodes become closely spaced together to the point where they’re in it all the time,” elaborated Dr. Kenigsberg.

Felicia’s episode was lasting for days, so her only option was surgery. She was going to have an ablation with a new FDA-approved laser balloon.

“The difference between this iteration and the prior version is that this balloon has a motor which is able to move the laser beam in a specified fashion around the circle anteroom of the pulmonary vein,” Dr. Kenigsberg explained.

Making surgery more efficient and quicker. A procedure before this new balloon would take about three and a half hours.

But with the motorized movement of laser on the HeartLight X-3 balloon, the procedure is less than half the time. Felicia was doing better right after surgery.

“I was laying on the pillow and I could hear my heart. It was just amazing to hear it and it wasn’t going ‘boom, boom, boom, boom’ … it wasn’t doing that, it was taking it’s time each beat,” Felicia expressed.

The only restriction after surgery is no heavy lifting and no submerging in a body of water, such as a lake, pool, or bath for a week.

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Don Dwyer

Don Dwyer is a Morning Anchor/Reporter at WGEM.

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