Health Beat

Health Beat: Catheter ablation saves man's heart

SALT LAKE CITY - David Shepherd is an active guy, so when his job delivering bread got tough, he knew something was wrong.

"Every time I'd come in, I was so exhausted and so winded that I had to sit down in the backroom of those grocery stores for 10 or 15 minutes to catch my breath," said Shepherd, a heart failure and AFib patient.

Shepherd had heart problems for years, and now he was in atrial fibrillation.

Dr. Nassir Marrouchem, a professor of internal medicine at University of Utah Hospital, used a catheter to destroy areas in the heart that were causing the irregular heartbeats. Marrouche's trial for patients like Shepherd, with heart failure and AFib, shows remarkable results after five years.

"We showed, that for the first time ever, that catheter ablation for AFib does improve mortality by almost 50-percent reduction," Marrouche said.

The castle AF study also showed that hospitalizations dropped 47 percent.

"Showing such a striking mortality and heart end point benefits was, as you can imagine, great, great news for our patients and for us as treating physicians," Marrouche said.

Marrouche said this is good news for the health care system, too, as cost of care should drop. Shepherd is just glad it worked.

"I like to bike ride. I like to hike. I like to camp. I like to get out and do things," said Shepherd.

Both Shepherd and Marrouche hope the study will help more heart failure patients soon.

Patients in the study had significant heart weakness, an implanted defibrillator, and any type of afib. Marrouche said 30 percent of heart failure patients get AFib. He hopes the study findings will change standard of care for these folks quickly.


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