LOUDOUN COUNTY, Va. (WDVM) — Northern Virginians would typically travel to INOVA Fairfax Medical Campus for an atrial fibrillation (AFib) ablation procedure — but now, Loudoun County residents have the option to stay a bit closer to home.
“We found that AFib ablation is really only used when people live close to a center that offers it. One of the reasons why we wanted to put the program here at Loudoun is to make it accessible for patients here,” said Dr. Brett Atwater, Director of Electrophysiology at INOVA Health System.
Now, residents can take a short trip to INOVA’s Lansdowne Campus in Leesburg for the operation, which began being offered to patients in July.
Thus far, two procedures have been performed at the location.
“It’s going well so far, and we have taken really careful precautions to make sure we can do the procedures as safely and effectively as possible here,” said Atwater.
Patients from ages 18 to their late 80’s may suffer from AFib. Symptoms can range from palpitations and shortness of breath to more serious conditions, like heart failure. According to the American Heart Association, roughly 2.7 million Americans suffer from the condition.
Atwater is one of four physicians qualified to perform the procedure at the Lansdowne location. He says AFib ablation has the best outcome for patients with the condition.
“The way that the procedure is performed is by putting a patient under anesthesia, we then use an IV that we place in the legs on both sides. Through that IV, we insert catheters up to the heart. These catheters have a tip on them that get hot when we apply electrical energy to it, and that allows us to cauterize the heart tissue in area that are causing AFib,” said Atwater.
Procedures will be offered at the location Monday-Friday based on provider availability.