First Atrial Flutter Ablation Performed at Augusta Health

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Dr. Glenn Brammer, a board-certified cardiologist and electrophysiologist, performed the first Atrial Flutter Ablation in Augusta Health's new Electrophysiology Lab on October 24.

Atrial Flutter is a condition that affects the rhythm of the heart. When the heart's 'electrical system' is working normally, the upper and lower chambers of the heart work together to pump blood through the heart. With Atrial Flutter, extra electric signals originating in different parts of the upper chambers (the atria) cause a more rapid heartbeat, called Atrial Flutter. Ablation is a procedure, using catheters to identify the areas causing the rapid beat, and 'disconnect' that circuit.

"It's similar to how firefighters use a controlled burn to control a forest fire," said Mark Masonheimer, RN, Director of Cardiovascular Services at Augusta Health. "We create a ridge across the area that is causing the abnormal heart rate so the arrhythmia can't reach into that heart."

The patient, Elizabeth Hilderbrand, said her atrial flutter was actually discovered during a routine EKG in preparation for knee surgery. She had not even realized that the symptoms she was experiencing—sleepiness, grogginess, and some shortness of breath while exercising—indicated a problem with the rhythm of her heart. Surgery for her knee and her atrial flutter ablation procedure occurred exactly three weeks apart.

"The incisions from the procedure are hardly noticeable. If I didn't feel so much better, it would be hard for me to know I'd even had surgery," said Ms. Hilderbrand of the atrial flutter ablation. "There is a difference in how I feel. I have more energy, and my sister and my friends have noticed that I don't wheeze anymore. I don't feel as winded when I ride the exercise bike."

Dr. Brammer noted, "The procedure went well, as we expected. The entire team—the cardiology staff, office staff, lab, anesthesia and the floor nurses who took care of Ms. Hilderbrand after the procedure—did a great job, and that's what we expect. We're all glad the Ms. Hilderbrand is feeling better and hope she continues to enjoy good health."

"The entire staff included me in everything that was going on through the whole process," adds Ms. Hilderbrand. "They were professional but easy-going, and I was never ignored. My nurse Bonnie even stopped by on her lunch break to check on me before I went home and that was nice."

The Electrophysiology Lab is located in Augusta Health's Heart and Vascular Center and provides advanced therapies for heart rhythm disorders. This includes ablation for atrial fibrillation and atrial flutter, pacemakers, defibrillators for prevention of sudden cardiac death and resynchronization devices for treatment of congestive heart failure.

Augusta Health is an independent, nonprofit community hospital whose mission is to promote the health and well-being of our community through access to excellent care. Named one of the 100 Top Hospitals in America by Thomson Reuters in both 2011 and 2012, Augusta Health has also been nationally recognized by HealthGrades for clinical excellence and patient safety and has been named one of America's 100 Best Hospital by HealthGrades. For more information about Augusta Health, its programs or its services, please contact Public Relations at (540) 245-7329 or (540) 221-7329, or visit the Augusta Health website.