Today, thanks to an innovative minimally invasive hybrid ablation procedure that represents a new treatment option for patients with chronic or difficult-to-treat atrial fibrillation, Deron’s heart is beating normally. He’s also back on the ice, touring with his Hockey North America team and coaching his son’s Montclair (NJ) Hockey Club team.
Deron underwent his innovative procedure at The Valley Hospital in Ridgewood, NJ, the first in New Jersey and one of the few hospitals in the New York metropolitan area to offer this new approach. The hybrid approach combines the skills of a cardiac surgeon and an electrophysiologist, who work side-by-side to block the abnormal electrical signals emanating from the heart’s left atrium. It is a combination of the catheter and surgical approaches to cardiac ablation, and is done through minimally invasive incisions, not open-heart surgery, in the cardiac electrophysiology suite.
“Three other types of ablation procedures had failed to put my heart back into a normal rhythm, so I was almost ready to quit my job” says Deron. “I couldn’t exercise, my quality of life was terrible, and the fear of a stroke loomed over me at all times. Now, I have my life back to enjoy with my wife and four children.”
Cardiac surgeon Jason Sperling, M.D., and electrophysiologist Jonathan Steinberg, M.D., Director of the Valley Arrhythmia Institute (part of The Valley Heart & Vascular Institute) performed Deron’s procedure — called a hybrid ablation — together.
“This is an exciting advancement for the treatment of atrial fibrillation because it targets long-suffering patients who may have failed other forms of treatment,” says Dr. Sperling.
Atrial fibrillation (also called AFib) is a quivering or irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) that can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications. An estimated 2.7 million Americans are living with AFib, according to the American Heart Association.
In most cases, normal heart rhythm can be restored with medication or a standard catheter ablation procedure. But sometimes, the AFib is more persistent and does not respond to these first-line treatments. The persistent AFib interferes with the patient’s quality of life and can even lead to feelings of depression. To date, effective options in these patients have been limited; thus, for many this has meant learning to live a life with AFib.
“Through ongoing clinical research with industry partners and other heart centers, we are working toward best practices to define the correct amount of ablation needed to treat all forms of atrial fibrillation optimally,” notes Suneet Mittal, M.D., Director of the Electrophysiology Laboratory at The Valley Hospital.
For more information, or to find out if you are a candidate for the hybrid ablation procedure, please call 201-HEART DR (201-432-7837) in NJ or 212-HEART DR (212-432-7837) in NYC.