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New Cardiac Arrhythmia Unit brings unique technology to Hamilton
New Cardiac Arrhythmia Unit brings unique technology to Hamilton and reduces wait times for ablations and device implants


Hamilton – November 10, 2011 – Cardiac Arrhythmia patients in the Hamilton region now have access to the most advanced electrophysiology technology available in Canada.

The new $7.5 million Cardiac Arrhythmia Unit (CAU) and electrophysiology (EP) Lab at Hamilton General Hospital diagnoses and treats patients with serious atrial fibrillation (irregular heart beat) and cardiac arrhythmias (fast heart rhythm).

• The two new EP labs both contain the most advanced high-resolution, rotational and 3D imaging technology with the ability to perform CT scans, allowing for real-time, increased precision for treating highly complex procedures.

• Each lab and its individual control room hosts a unique computer cockpit consisting of two 56” monitors and a server that integrates multiple systems by consolidating all of the information previously provided on as many as seven different computers into one unit – the first such unit in the province.

• This new technology allows physicians to see all of the patient’s information on one monitor during the procedure including heart rate, recordings from the electrical activity from inside the heart and 3D imaging from inside the heart.

• The new CAU boasts a self-contained, eight-bed inpatient area with its own reception and recovery area allowing for a streamlined and specialized continuum of care.

• Wait times have been reduced to four to six months, one third to one quarter of the previous wait time.

• The new CAU will allow for more opportunities to respond to inpatients and emergency procedures. Previously, when a cardiac arrhythmia patient arrived in the Emergency Department and needed a pacemaker, they had to wait in hospital for up to 5 days until operating room time became available. Now, depending on availability, a patient could receive a new pacemaker and return home the same day.

“The advanced technology we now have in the new EP labs will have a huge impact on complex patients who need highly accurate ablations,” says Dr. Carlos Morillo, Director of the Arrhythmia and Pacing Service, Hamilton Health Sciences.

Patients like Joe Petruzzella, who went to bed completely exhausted every single night. Not because of lack of sleep, or because he had a busy day, but because his heart had to work extra hard, more than normal, to make up for its irregular heart beat.

Joe visited the new Cardiac Arrhythmia Unit in September, 2011 for a cardiac catheter ablation procedure, where a thin, flexible tube was inserted into his heart to deliver energy and disconnect the pathway in tiny areas of the heart muscle that cause abnormal heart rhythm.

“I noticed a difference right way,” said Joe. “I took my pulse six times a day for the first little while, just to make sure the procedure really worked.”

“The biggest change is when I go to bed at night, I’m not completely exhausted anymore,” said Joe. “I workout everyday lifting weights and doing cardio, but had to watch what I did because I would get too tired. Now, I can do everything.”

This was his second time receiving this treatment. Joe was diagnosed with chronic atrial fibrillation in 1998 at the age of 42. He received various treatments over the past thirteen years, which were successful, but only temporary. In March 2009, he had his first ablation procedure, but was told there was a 25 per cent chance his atrial fibrillation (A-fib) could come back. Eighteen months later, it did.

“The new technology we’re using now is second to none. It will have a tremendous benefit for patient’s like Joe, because it provides more vivid images that will allow us to perform more precise ablations,” says Dr. Carlos Morillo.

Facts about Atrial Fibrillation (A-Fib):
• Out of 50,000 strokes per year in Canada (1 every 10 minutes), 1 out of 6 (15 – 20 percent) are due to A-Fib. Causing disability in 60 per cent
• 25 per cent of the population over 40 will develop A-Fib
• Risk of developing A-Fib increases 1.5 per cent per year in 50-59 year olds
• Risk of developing A-Fib increases 23.5 per cent in 80-89 year olds
Source: Heart and Stroke Foundation.
Hamilton Health Sciences • Hamilton, Ontario • 905.521.2100

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