Doctors are using new 3-D technology to treat irregular hearts in a more accurate and effective way.
"When your heart starts going that fast and your chest is pounding and you just feel like you're going to pass out, it's a frightening experience," says Carla Schindeler
Like more than five million Americans, Schindeler has a racing, irregular heartbeat called atrial fibrillation. About 35 percent of people with it will have a stroke, but doctors can destroy the heart tissue that causes the problem with a catheter procedure called ablation.
"What we are trying to achieve with ablation is hopefully isolate and silence the triggers for atrial fibrillation," says Ahmed Osman, M.D., cardiac electrophysiologist at Broward General Medical Center.
Doctors need precise imaging to get the best results during an ablation. Now, this technology helps them see the heart in real-time like never before.
"It has clearly and dramatically changed the way we manage the disease," says Osman.
By inserting a tiny probe in the vein, doctors get images in different planes and virtually reconstruct the left atrium. Three-dimensional mapping then enhances how doctors view and treat the heart.
"We are able to navigate very accurately inside the left atrium and achieve electrical isolation of the veins," says Osman.
Schindeler was treated with help from the new imaging system and says she's never felt better.
"I feel so much more comfortable now doing things because you just don't live in fear that something's going to go amiss," she says.