Memorial Hospital September 03, 2014

Jacksonville, FL — Jim Helton is ready to get back on the golf course and ready to enjoy life a little more. For the first time in about eight years, he has energy to keep up with his family, take daily walks, and do yard work without getting out of breath. Helton credits his improved heart health to a new procedure now being performed at Memorial Hospital. Helton was one of the first patients at Memorial Hospital to undergo the thoracoscopic MAZE procedure, designed to treat patients suffering from Atrial Fibrillation or AFIB.

“I had chest pains, had trouble breathing, felt light headed and couldn’t do much of anything,” said Helton who underwent the procedure to improve his life and his longevity. “I have three daughters living at home, three of them are very young, and they need a father and I want to be here for them,” said Helton.

The procedure is considered the most advanced treatment option for AFIB patients available today. It is a hybrid approach, combining both minimally invasive surgery and catheter-based techniques to put a patient’s heart back into rhythm.

“I am extremely proud to be able to offer this to patients because it is a very specialized technique and right now there are a limited number of hospitals around the country offering this procedure,” said Cardiothoracic Surgeon Dr. Vasant Jayasankar. “I think it is the best treatment for our patients because it gives them the greatest chance of cure from Atrial Fibrillation long-term.”

The surgical procedure is performed through three small incisions on each side of the chest on the beating heart. It does not require opening the chest or going on a heart lung machine. The first part of the procedure is performed by a thoracic surgeon in the operating room. The second part of the procedure is performed in the catheterization lab with an electrophysiologist.

Benefits include:

  • Improved stamina
  • Increased energy level
  • Improved Quality of Life
  • Increased Longevity
  • Decreased risk of stroke
  • Decreased risk of premature death

“We’re taking a procedure that performed alone may have a success rate of 30% and making it a combined procedure with a success rate of over 90%, which is relatively unheard of in the field of Atrial Fibrillation,” said Cardiac Electrophysiologist AadityaVora. “By bringing multiple physicians together, we can work closely to give patients the best outcomes possible.”

So far the outcome has proved to be positive for Helton who was released from the hospital two days after his procedure. Free of all AFIB symptoms, Helton now offers this advice to other patients.

“If you want to get back on your feet, be active and do the things that AFIB took away, Memorial Hospital is where you would come and the thoracoscopic MAZE is what you would have done.”

According to the American Heart Association, an estimated 2.7 million Americans are living with AFIB.