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New revolutionary procedure to treat atrial fibrillation | Sharp is first hospital on West Coast for clinical study

Sharp Memorial in San Diego is the first hospital on the West Coast to have this revolutionary procedure.

SAN DIEGO — Sharp Memorial in San Diego is the first hospital on the West Coast to be able to perform a revolutionary procedure to treat irregular heartbeat, formally known as atrial fibrillation (Afib).

"It is definitely a revolutionary approach to the way we treat patients," said Sharp San Diego Cardiac Center’s Dr. Charles Athill. He says Pulsed Field Ablation is a new approach to treating the condition.

Puled field Ablation utilizes a controlled electric field instead of thermal energy to ablate and scar cardiac tissue through a process called irreversible electroporation (IRE).

"If this turns out to be a good study, it will improve the outcomes for patients with Afib," said Dr. Athill.

Afib is the most common type of cardiac arrhythmia affecting an estimated 33 million people globally. 

By 2030, the number of people with Afib is projected to increase by 70%.

For Dr. Athill, the heart condition hits close to home.

"It is absolutely close to home. My dad had Afib and developed one of the most devastating cases and had a stroke and passed away. My brother also has Afib and had a stroke himself," said Dr. Athill.

That personal experience is what drives him when treating his patients. He says Pulsed Field Ablation has several potential benefits.

"It's effective potentially, appears to be safer in terms of efficiency, and reduces the time for the patient and the physician. Pulse Field Ablation zaps abnormal circuits, but does not cause any damage," said Athill.

Johnson and Johnson Med Tech announced that Biosense Webster Inc. enrolled its first 400 patients in the clinical study in the United States. Dr. Athill says around 20 to 30 of those patients will be in San Diego. The study will evaluate its safety and effectiveness.

"It is a clinical trial that has not been approved. It started in Europe and that’s where we got promising data on efficiency. We are really excited about bringing this to patients at Sharp Memorial," said Athill.

The first patients in San Diego will undergo this procedure next week on August 9th. 

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