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Ellis unveils unique new heart treatment

Schenectady man first patient of new hybrid ablation procedure

From left, Dr. Hebert Reich, Ellis Cardiothoracic Surgeon; Dr. Robert Joy, Cardiology Associates of Schenectady and an electrophysiologist at Ellis Medicine; Dr. Brian McDonald, of Schenectady Pulmonary Critical Care Associates; and Dr. Robert Parkes, of Cardiology Associates of Schenectady, pose at “A Meeting of the Minds” on Thursday, March 8. Each physician presented on a different area of advancement in cardiac care during the event.

From left, Dr. Hebert Reich, Ellis Cardiothoracic Surgeon; Dr. Robert Joy, Cardiology Associates of Schenectady and an electrophysiologist at Ellis Medicine; Dr. Brian McDonald, of Schenectady Pulmonary Critical Care Associates; and Dr. Robert Parkes, of Cardiology Associates of Schenectady, pose at “A Meeting of the Minds” on Thursday, March 8. Each physician presented on a different area of advancement in cardiac care during the event. Submitted photo

— Reich, a Niskayuna resident, said a benefit of the procedure is that it’s minimally invasive, requiring him to make a 1-inch incision in the abdomen. The device he uses is 3 centimeters in length and he uses it to complete around 80 percent of the work, before Joy does his share.

Besides the benefit of being minimally invasive, he said theoretically there is a high, long-term success rate.

“It can take a long time. It can need a second, third or rarely a fourth procedure to get it to set and you have to meet certain criteria,” Reich said. “Hopefully it is done in a more efficient manner time wise so it is less anesthesia for the patient.”

Often, such as with Connelly, Reich said patients are on medications to control irregular heartbeats.

“Most of the time the patients are on medications to control the heart rate and heart rhythm … medications are costly and have side effects,” Reich said. “The need to take several drugs, plus the side effects, plus the cost, kind of adds up on some of these people. Even with all the medicines some patient still don’t tolerate being in atrial fibrillation well — they feel it.”

When diagnosed, Connelly said he used medication and adjusted the dosage level for around four years. He continued using the medication for around 12 years until it didn’t work effectively anymore.

“That kept things under control, I was having instances of a-fib over that period of time, but it would be once to twice a year and the episodes would last anywhere from half-an-hour to two or three hours,” Connelly said.

His doctor tried using a different medication, but continued to have episodes on a daily basis, which he said felt like “a runaway train in his chest.” Episodes at night would even wake him up out of a sound sleep, with symptoms sometimes lasting up to 19 hours.

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