Advanced Technology Helps to Treat a Woman's Heart Rhythm Disorder

Scripps patient Barbara Herd receives successful treatment for cardiac arrhythmia

Barbara Herd 180×260

Barbara Herd loves to tend the garden outside her Oceanside home. Thanks to the care she has received at Scripps, her health is blooming.

The day before Thanksgiving, in 2008, Barbara underwent cardiac catheter ablation for atrial fibrillation, a condition that causes a rapid, irregular heart beat of as high as 300 beats per minute, as compared to a normal heart rate of about 60 to 80 beats per minute.

It is one of the most common cardiac arrhythmias, affecting millions of patients in the United States.

Correcting arrhythmia with pulmonary vein isolation ablation

Prior to her surgery, Barbara experienced an increasing number of instances where her heart would race, she was nauseated and she had difficulty breathing, which resulted in more trips to the hospital emergency room. Left untreated, the condition also increased her risk of stroke.

“The experience would knock my socks off,” says Barbara. “I couldn’t move, and I would have to sit for hours and hours to get my rapid heart beat under control. Medication wasn’t enough.”

Electrophysiologists at Scripps Clinic and Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla are leaders in treating heart rhythm disorders. Michael Porter, MD, performed a pulmonary vein isolation ablation procedure to correct Barbara’s arrhythmia at Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla’s Cardiac Arrhythmia Center.

Returning to a fulfilling life filled with family and gardening

The center has advanced technology, including a new robotic heart catheter system that maps the heart by providing three-dimensional images to locate the area causing the atrial fibrillation, localize it and destroy it. This life-changing and lifesaving equipment was funded through philanthropy.

“Scripps has the most advanced technology, coupled with our highly skilled physicians,” adds Dr. Porter. “Every day I see patients who are frustrated by living with their arrhythmias. Today, we can perform minimally invasive ablation procedures to restore their quality of life. As a physician, it’s a great feeling to make such a difference.”

For Barbara, the procedure allows her to get back to what she loves best, caring for her family and spending time in her garden.

“I have so much to be thankful for — my family, my good health and Scripps,” she says.