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Cindy Ficorelli

Phone: (810) 606-6270
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Genesys first in Michigan to introduce new heart procedure for patients who have exhausted all other treatment options

(GENESEE COUNTY, MI) Genesys Heart Institute is the first and only health care facility in Michigan - and one of only 70 in the entire country - to conduct a new, innovative procedure - the Convergent procedure - for patients with persistent atrial fibrillation (A-Fib) who have failed other treatments or have little chance of success with conventional techniques.
Atrial fibrillation - the most common sustained abnormal heart rhythm - affects some five million Americans and that number is projected to increase dramatically over the next 25 years. Estimated cost to the national healthcare system for treating this condition is approximately $26 billion a year.

Atrial fibrillation is a rapid and irregular heart rhythm that arises from chaotic and irregular electrical activity in the upper chambers of the heart. Normal electrical activity is about 50 to 100 beats a minute; in A-Fib, the irregular rates can be as high as 200 a minute, reports Karl Ilg, MD,

Genesys Heart Institute electrophysiologist who is part of the physician team who conducts the new procedure.

"If the heart rate is left at a rapid rate for prolonged periods, the heart muscle weakens, leading to symptoms of congestive heart failure. Patients with A-Fib are at a greater risk of stroke than those who do not have this heart condition," Dr. Ilg points out.

Now, with a new procedure in use at Genesys, these patients - who previously were left with no options - and a life with poor quality, have a treatment that can bring an 80 percent success rate.

The Convergent procedure combines the skills of a cardiothoracic surgeon and an electrophysiologist in a single procedure to help restore heart rhythm and hope for a large population of patients who have lived with very little hope for a very long time.

Here is how the procedure works:

The cardiothoracic surgeon and the electrophysiologist work together to identify and eliminate areas of the right and left chambers of the heart that are responsible for initiating and maintaining abnormal rhythm. They use instrumentation that heats areas of heart tissue (radiofrequency). First, the cardiothoracic surgeon makes three tiny incisions in the patient's abdomen and works through these special instruments to create a lesion pattern around the outside of the heart. Next, the electrophysiologist completes the procedure by inserting small, flexible catheters through the groin to target areas the cardiothoracic surgeon cannot access from outside the heart. The goal through the procedure is to restore the patient's normal heart rhythm and quality of life.

The Convergent procedure takes about five hours. It is conducted in a specialized cardiac catheterization lab at Genesys, a newly-built, 900-square foot, state-of-the-art lab that features the newest generation of technology to conduct advanced procedures and complex cases that previously were referred out of the region, and with Convergent, out of the state.

Patients typically will stay in the hospital for two to three days following the procedure. Patients report they are back to their normal activities of daily living in about two weeks.

Success rate for the procedure is about 80 percent at one year follow-up.

Genesys Heart Institute's Convergent team is comprised of: cardiothoracic surgeons Karsten Fliegner, MD, PhD, FACS; Marc Silver, MD, FACS; and electrophysiologists Matthew Ebinger, DO; and Karl Ilg, MD. They have extensive training and experience with advanced heart procedures including minimally invasive techniques and treatments for most heart conditions and complex cases that previously were referred out of the region.

Candidates for the Convergent procedure are those living with symptomatic, persistent A-Fib (episodes lasting more than one week) who have had recurring episodes despite medications and other conventional treatments.

Factors that can lead to A-Fib are age, heart valve disease, hypertension, congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease, obesity and obstructive sleep apnea.


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