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Leading the way as one of the top Michigan cardiology and Michigan heart care hospitals with a full array of cardiac treatments and programs that set new standards for heart care every day, that's the St. Joseph Mercy Oakland way. From heart valve replacement to coronary artery bypass, our doctors are at the forefront of heart procedures and treatments.

Russell Steinman, MD
St. Joseph Mercy Oakland
Electrophysiologist and Medical Director
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THE FACTS ABOUT Cardiac Ablation


A normal heart rhythm is the result of an electrical impulse
passing through the heart tissue in a regular, measured pattern.
This routinely functioning electrical system in the body is the
foundation for heart muscle contractions.

Podcast Posted: 05/01/2008
Sometimes, normal electrical flow becomes blocked or travels
the same pathways repeatedly and creates a “short circuit” which
disturbs regular hear t rhythms. Although medication can be
helpful in some cases, often the most effective treatment is to
destroy the abnormal heart tissue surrounding the short circuit.
This procedure is known as cardiac ablation.

Also known as radiofrequency ablation, cardiac ablation
is accomplished by inserting a catheter into a blood vessel –
usually through a site in the groin or neck – to reach the heart
and destroy, or ablate, abnormal heart tissue. The path from
entry point to heart muscle is plotted by images created by a
fluoroscope, an x-ray-like machine that provides continuous live
images of the catheter and tissue.

Once the catheter reaches the heart, electrodes at the tip gather
data to pinpoint the precise location of the faulty electrical site.
During this “electrical mapping,” an electrophysiologist uses
radiofrequency energy to either freeze or cauterize surrounding
tissue – ending the disruption of electrical flow through the heart
and restoring a healthy heart rhythm.

Many people have abnormal heart rhythms, or arrhythmias, that
cannot be controlled with lifestyle changes or antiarrhythmic
medications,” says Russell Steinman, MD and SJMO Electrophysiologist
and Medical Director. “Catheter ablation is successful in 90-98
percent of cases and eliminates the need for open-heart surgeries
or long-term drug therapies.”

Most often, cardiac ablation is used to treat rapid heartbeats that
begin in the upper chambers, or atria, of the heart. Less frequently,
ablation can treat heart rhythm disorders that begin in the heart’s
lower chambers, known as ventricles.

The most common, ventricular tachycardia, may also be the most
dangerous type of arrhythmia because it can lead to sudden
cardiac death.

For patients at risk for sudden cardiac death, ablation is often
used along with an implantable cardioverter device (ICD). The
ablation decreases the frequency of abnormal heart rhythms in
the ventricles and thereby reduces the number of ICD shocks a
patient may experience.

Please contact the SJMO physician referral line at 800.372.6094 to
find an SJMO cardiac specialist/electrophysiologist near you.


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Posted: 05/09/2008
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Why Minutes Count
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Posted: 08/10/2007
Heart Failure
Nitin Doshi, MD
Posted: 08/10/2007
Life After a Heart Attack
Willam Gordon, MD
Posted: 08/10/2007
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