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About Atrial Fibrillation
Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most prevalent cardiac rhythm disorder today, with more than six million people affected worldwide. In patients with AF, the heart beats irregularly due to abnormal electrical activity in its upper chambers. This irregular beating can cause symptoms such as shortness of breath, fatigue and dizziness, and can ultimately lead to stroke and heart failure.
Patients with AF have historically had two treatment options: pharmaceutical drugs with significant side effects and poor long-term effectiveness, or invasive ablation surgery in which lesions are created along the heart wall to cut off the abnormal electrical activity.
A new form of ablation therapy, called catheter ablation, promises to offer physicians and patients a less invasive approach with the potential for better outcomes and fewer negative side effects than traditional therapies. During the procedure, the physician threads an ablation catheter (a special thin, flexible tube) through the patient’s groin area to the upper chambers of the heart, where he or she will create targeted lesions along the heart wall to disrupt the abnormal electrical activity.
Many technologies have emerged over the last several years to accelerate the adoption of catheter ablation for AF, yet the procedure remains highly complex and unpredictable. A key factor favoring the adoption of this new procedure is the physician’s inability to accurately measure the contact force between the catheter and the beating heart wall. Without this measure, the physician has to estimate – and frequently guess – the level of force required. If the contact force is too great, the catheter tip may perforate the heart wall. If it is too slight, the procedure may be ineffective.
This has changed with the introduction of Endosense’s TactiCath®, the first force-sensing ablation catheter to provide real-time, objective measure of contact force between the catheter and the beating heart wall.