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Yale New Haven Hospital employs novel treatment for abnormal heart rhythms

Yale New Haven Hospital's cardiac electrophysiology and arrhythmia service is the first in Connecticut to offer a novel non-surgical approach to treat a life-threatening heart rhythm disorder called ventricular tachycardia. Ventricular tachycardia, also known as VT or V-TACH, is an abnormal fast heart rate that originates from the heart's lower chambers and is a major cause of cardiac arrest and sudden death.

The procedure, called epicardial VT ablation, targets the origins of the abnormal rhythm on the outer surface of the heart without the need for extensive surgery. Using a small needle puncture, a catheter is advanced beneath the rib cage onto the outer surface of the heart where regions of abnormal electrical activity are eliminated using radiofrequency energy emitted from the catheter tip. Any alternative approaches to reaching those abnormal regions of the heart would require more extensive open chest surgery. Yale New Haven Hospital is the only medical center in Connecticut to offer this procedure.

This novel treatment was recently used on a 55-year-old Connecticut man with a long history of VT. Since the epicardial ablation, his heart rhythm has returned to normal.

"Ventricular tachycardia is a very dangerous rhythm that can result in multiple painful defibrillator shocks, passing out or even death," said Joseph Akar, MD, PhD, director of the Complex Ablation Program at YNHH. "It is often resistant to medications. When this arrhythmia originates from the epicardium - the outer surface of the heart - epicardial VT ablation is the most effective minimally invasive method of treatment. Any other modality would require more extensive surgery and lower success rates."

The Yale New Haven Hospital Heart and Vascular Center is a national pioneer in developing new heart treatments and therapies. As Connecticut's premier referral center, the Center receives some of the most difficult heart patients from throughout New England - patients who come for heart transplants, high-risk valve or bypass surgery and angioplasty, as well as those who have irregular heart rhythms requiring an expert cardiologist.

Yale New Haven Hospital (YNHH), part of Yale New Haven Health, is a nationally recognized, 1,541-bed, not-for-profit hospital serving as the primary teaching hospital for the Yale School of Medicine (YSM). Founded as the fourth voluntary hospital in the U.S. in 1826, today, YNHH has two New Haven-based campuses, and also includes Yale New Haven Children's Hospital, Yale New Haven Psychiatric Hospital and Smilow Cancer Hospital. YNHH has received Magnet designation from the American Nurses Credentialing Center, the nation’s highest honor of nursing excellence. YNHH has a combined medical staff of about 4,500 university and community physicians practicing in more than 100 specialties.