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Health & Science

Study Finds Common Heart Condition Can be Treated Effectively With a Procedure, Not Drugs

an image of human heart
Atrial fibrillation causes the heart to beat out of its usual rhythm.

Doctors in Cleveland have found a new way to treat a common heart condition without drugs.

It’s a procedure where veins that lead to the heart are frozen in order to prevent irregular heartbeat known as atrial fibrillation, or Afib.

a photo of Oussama Wazni
Dr. Oussama Wazni is the section head for clinical cardiac electrophysiology at the Cleveland Clinic.

Cleveland Clinic electrophysiologist Dr. Oussama Wazni led a study using two different treatments on people with A-fib who’d never taken medicine for it. One group was medicated the other had an ablation, which uses a catheter with a balloon to freeze tissue in the veins that bring blood to the heart from the lungs. 

“That’s where the triggers of Afib originate,” Wazni said. 

The scar tissue generated puts up a road block to stop the electrical impulse that causes A-fib and maintain the heart’s normal, or sinus, rhythm. 

A year after the procedure: “We found that 75% of patients who had a single ablation remained in sinus rhythm vs 45% of patients who took an anti-arrhythmic drug,” Wazni said. 

He said the study will guide Clinic treatment and could ultimately change current guidelines for treating a-fib.