Hybrid Cardiac Procedure Allows Triathlete to Get Back in the Race

February 10, 2015

Tampa, Fla., (February 10, 2015)-  As a veteran, federal police officer and avid triathlete Bruce McArthur is no stranger to strenuous activity.  But four years ago, he noticed a flutter in his heart and couldn’t sleep through the night. He underwent a sleep diagnostic test and learned atrial fibrillation, not sleep apnea, was the source of his problem.

     Atrial fibrillation is the most common form of heart arrhythmia, affecting approximately 2.6 million Americans. It causes the heart to beat too fast, too slow or with an irregular rhythm, increasing the risk of stroke.

      After spending a month in the hospital, McArthur got his atrial fibrillation under control. He managed it with the medication for about two years, but when the drugs stopped working he needed a more permanent solution.

    Dr. Kevin Makati with St. Joseph’s Hospital’s Heart Institute recommended the Convergent method to treat McArthur’s atrial fibrillation. This hybrid, minimally invasive operation combines the expertise of electrophysiologists (heart rhythm specialists) and cardiovascular surgeons in a single procedure. 

     The surgeon uses radiofrequency (extreme heat) to create a pattern of lesions (small cuts) on the outside of the heart without a need for chest incisions. Then, in the same room, the electrophysiologist, uses a catheter to complete the lesion pattern from inside the heart and makes sure it stops the currents that cause atrial fibrillation. (Watch animation of the procedure at http://bit.ly/1qsoAbA ). Good candidates for Convergent include those with:

  • Long-term atrial fibrillation
  • Structural heart disease
  • An enlarged or growing left atrium

     McArthur feels better today and a small scar is the only sign he has of the surgery. After undergoing the Convergent procedure, he slowly got back into his exercise routine and completed a triathlon five months later. McArthur says having the procedure allows him to live the life he wants to live. He even inspired Dr. Makati to compete in his first triathlon.

    St. Joseph’s Hospital is currently the only hospital in Hillsborough County doing Convergent and was recently selected as a teaching site for the procedure.

     B-Roll and interviews with Dr. Makati, Dr. Sherman and Bruce McArthur can be downloaded at http://we.tl/sh2cbtOsja . (A soundbite log is also available).

     To speak with a doctor or a patient about Convergent please call St. Joseph’s Hospital Media Relations at (813) 554-8216.