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Friday, August 7, 2020  

Denver Health opens new Atrial Fibrillation Ablation CenterPublished 4/18/2005

Nearly three million Americans suffer from a heart arrhythmia condition called atrial fibrillation, or "A-Fib." When someone has A-Fib, the heart's two small upper chambers (the atria) quiver and beat irregularly. Patients experience an erratic pulse, lightheadedness, shortness of breath, and fatigue. Some A-Fib patients faint, and many experience a greatly diminished quality of life. Treatment with pharmaceutical therapies usually helps to control symptoms, but does not cure the problem.

Denver Health’s Cardiology Department has opened a new Arrhythmia Center with an electrophysiology laboratory to treat these patients using an elective procedure called Atrial Fibrillation Ablation.

"The procedure works for about 65 to 80 percent of patients, restoring them to a normal lifestyle. Others may be significantly improved," said Laurent Lewkowiez, M.D., cardiac electrophysiologist at Denver Health.

A-Fib is a condition that becomes more prevalent with age. Three to five percent of people over age 65 have atrial fibrillation, affecting more men than women. The condition is in itself not immediately life threatening, but since blood isn’t pumped completely out of the heart’s upper chambers, it sometimes pools and clots. If a piece of a blood clot in the atria leaves the heart and becomes lodged in a brain artery, a stroke occurs. About 15 percent of strokes occur in people with atrial fibrillation. Prolonged A-Fib episodes also may weaken the heart muscle.

Atrial fibrillation ablation is a procedure in which a flexible tube with an electrode at the tip is inserted through a large vein or artery in the groin and moved into the heart. The tube is directed to the areas of the heart that are causing the inappropriate electrical impulses, and these points are isolated. The procedure was first done on humans in France in l994.

Patients will stay in Denver Health’s new state-of-the-art Medical Intensive Care Unit for two or three days following atrial fibrillation ablation.

"Most patients can get off their arrhythmia drugs within six weeks," Dr. Lewkoweiz said

Denver Health’s Lewkowiez is a board-certified cardiac electrophysiologist, and a member of the University of Colorado School of Medicine faculty. He trained especially for this procedure at an electrophysiology center of excellence at the University of Pennsylvania. He said he is already receiving referrals from physicians for complex cases and review of failed ablations.

Laurent Lewkowiez, M.D., cardiac electrophysiologist at Denver Health.  Photo Submitted
Laurent Lewkowiez, M.D., cardiac electrophysiologist at Denver Health. Photo Submitted
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