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Breakthrough heart research helping patients not miss a beat

Terri-amazing heart3.jpg
(WSYX/WTTE)

Atrial Fibrillation is the most common heart ailment in the U.S, and doctors say it can also be one of the most difficult to treat. But thanks to ground breaking research at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, doctors are taking a never before seen look at the electrical activity inside the heart.

Researchers say it's making all the difference when it comes to treating patients.

Robert Kowalczuk, a local Chiropractor, said his quality of life is better because of that research. He said problems with high blood pressure sent him to the doctor a few years ago. " (I felt) lightheaded and that sort of thing," said Kowalczuk. "Laying in bed at night I could feel my heart racing."

He said his doctor got right to the heart of the problem. "She did an EKG, and found I had AFib."

Dr. John Hummel, an electrophysiologist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, specializes in the treatment of cardiac arrhythmias. He said Atrial Fibrillation is the most common abnormal heart rhythm in humans. "The upper chamber of the heart is usually pumping," he said. "And when it fibrilates, all the cells aren't talking to one another, and the heart is just kind of wobbling so it’s not moving or transporting blood."

Hummel said treating persistant AFib Can be a challenge, but thanks to groundbreaking research, that challenge is being met. "We can study the heart using very high resolution 3d dimensional approaches."

Vadim Fedorov, PhD, is an associate professor in The Ohio State University College of Medicine; he also specializes in cardiovascular research. Fedorov and his team use donated human hearts to bring the atria, or upper chamber of the heart, back to life.

"We can inject special dye which has fluorescent properties and it has properties to change the florescence due to the electrical waves," said Fedorov.

Six special 3D cameras surround the heart to capture any changes in that electrical activity. "We can focus the camera on different regions of the heart, not only on one surface but also on another and do it simultaneously."

Fedorov said each camera records 10,000 images, allowing scientists to visualize the electrical activity within. "Sometimes looks like a little tornado inside of our heart," said Fedorov.

Kowalchuk's doctor was able to use that state of the art mapping information to pinpoint his problem area. He said his doctor did an ablation- making tiny scars on the heart to stop the irregular beat. "I feel great. It’s really worked wonders."

He said he's grateful for the scientists who put some heart into their work.

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