JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The CDC estimates more than 12 million people will have AFib by 2030.
AFib is short for Atrial fibrillation, which is an irregular and often rapid heart rhythm that can lead to blood clots in the heart.
Ascension St. Vincent’s is one of just five hospitals in the United States enrolling patients in a trial studying how artificial intelligence can change how Afib is treated.
The new technology is called “Volta VX1.” It is giving doctors like Saumil Oza at Ascension St. Vincent’s a fresh way to treat patients with AFib.
“It computes through a separate system of the electrical signatures,” Oza said. “It analyzes them. It guides us and marks the areas in the heart that it feels is important for us to ablate. Many of these areas are areas that I would have otherwise not have even thought to look in.”
It seems to be doing the job for Steven Preis, who has dealt with Afib for several years. He had a serious episode more than a decade ago.
“I went to the emergency room, and I was so out of breath, the only thing I can get out of my mouth was ‘heart,’” Preis said. “I remember my son saying, ‘Dad, I can see your heart beating through your chest.’”
People with Afib typically have an increased risk of stroke, heart failure, and other heart-related complications.
Dr. Oza said this new way of treating AFib patients is a breath of fresh air when other methods like ablations do not work on patients like Preis.
“It really gives me another tool to help my patients,” he said. “The end goal is to make my patients feel better, live longer, healthier, more productive lives; AFib really puts a damper on that.”
Preis is one of more than 30 patients in the Jacksonville area to receive the treatment. Preis said his Afib is gone now.
The way he made sure was by going to the Giants-Buccaneers game last NFL season with his son.
“We walked and yes, I was huffing and puffing for a little,” Preis said. “But then it just started getting better, and better, and better. Now I could actually be outside when it’s humid out, and not huff and puff and find difficulty breathing.”
Although still in the trial stage for this new treatment -- Dr. Oza believes there is promise.
“It gives hope to a lot of patients that otherwise we really didn’t have a whole lot of answers for,” Oza said.
“There is a light at the end of the tunnel,” Preis said. “You don’t have to have AFib anymore.”
Oza said he and his team will be using and analyzing this technology for a while. He anticipates enrollment for the clinical trial should be complete within the next year.