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Arrhythmia: Catheter Ablation for the Treatment of Atrial Fibrillation

BOSTON - On Thursday, February 26, 2004, web users logged on as web cameras took viewers live into the electrophysiology laboratory at Brigham and Women's Hospital for the latest in a series of live webcast programs intended to bring advances in treatment to health care professionals and the public.

Dr. Laurence M. Epstein, Chief of the Cardiac Arrhythmia Service at Brigham and Women's Hospital, performed a catheter ablation procedure for atrial fibrillation (AF) - the most common cardiac arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeat.

AF affects over two million Americans and is typically not life-threatening, causing symptoms (including sudden heart pounding, dizziness, chest discomfort) and significant quality-of-life issues that can change the way the patient lives their day-to-day life - such as limiting physical activity because of fatigue or fear of damage to their heart or other cardiac event.

Catheter ablation, the procedure Dr. Epstein performed, is a minimally invasive procedure that involves the percutaneous insertion of catheters into the heart to modify or possibly cure cardiac rhythm disturbances. The procedure selectively eliminates the heart cells that are causing the irregular heartbeat through the use of radiofrequency electrical energy delivered by the catheters that are positioned in the heart.

During the webcast, Dr. William G. Stevenson, MD, Director of the Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology Program at Brigham and Women's Hospital, assisted Dr. Epstein by providing narration throughout the procedure and answering e-mails from web viewers.

To learn more about this and previous Brigham and Women's Hospital webcasts, visit For media questions or to schedule an interview, please call the Public Affairs Office at (617) 534-1600.

BWH is a 716-bed nonprofit teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School and a founding member of Partners HealthCare System, an integrated health care delivery network. Internationally recognized as a leading academic health care institution, BWH is committed to excellence in patient care, medical research, and the training and education of health care professionals. The hospital's preeminence in all aspects of clinical care is coupled with its strength in medical research. A leading recipient of research grants from the National Institutes of Health, BWH conducts internationally acclaimed clinical, basic and epidemiological studies.



Laurence Epstein

Laurence Epstein, MD

William Stevenson

William Stevenson, MD