AFib safer to treat thanks to procedure at Phoenix hospital

Posted: Updated:
Atrial fibrillation is a common heart condition that often appears as an irregular heartbeat. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Atrial fibrillation is a common heart condition that often appears as an irregular heartbeat. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Treating it just got safer to treat thanks to a groundbreaking procedure available at Abrazo's Heart Hospital in Phoenix. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Treating it just got safer to treat thanks to a groundbreaking procedure available at Abrazo's Heart Hospital in Phoenix. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Doctor Akash Makkar is one of only two doctors in the state doing AFib ablation without exposing the patients, doctor, or staff to any radiation. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Doctor Akash Makkar is one of only two doctors in the state doing AFib ablation without exposing the patients, doctor, or staff to any radiation. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(3TV/CBS 5) -

Atrial fibrillation is a common heart condition that often appears as an irregular heartbeat.

Treating it just got safer to treat thanks to a groundbreaking procedure available at Abrazo's Heart Hospital in Phoenix.

Doctor Akash Makkar is one of only two doctors in the state doing AFib ablation without exposing the patients, doctor, or staff to any radiation.

[SPECIAL SECTION: CBS 5 This Morning]

Before this, everyone in the operating room was exposed to between 30 and 60 minutes of radiation because doctors used x-ray machines to guide their instruments around the heart.

Exposure for that long adds up quickly.

"A typical x-ray, for example, a chest x-ray, depending on the patient's size and their body, could be anywhere from .3 to .4 milligrays," Makkar said. "When we are talking about 30 minutes of radiation we are talking about 2000 milligrays, so that's equal to 4,000 to 6,000 chest x-rays." 

Instead, this new procedure uses magnets and catheters to guide the doctors.

Removing the radiation is also better for the doctors and staff who had been wearing very heavy protective gear during each procedure, sometimes leading to back problems over time. 

Symptoms of AFib are an irregular heartbeat or skipping a beat but can also be dizziness or fatigue. Makkar said we should be careful to not confuse normal aging with AFib.

"If you're getting older and you're thinking it's just age, that may not be the case," he said. "Sometimes once you fix it and you're back in normal rhythm you realize what you were attributing to the age was not the age."

He said if patients don't undergo surgery for AFib they will be on blood thinners or other medications for the rest of their life.

Click/tap here to download the free azfamily mobile app.

Copyright 2018 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.