UCLA cardiologists use new methods to treat life-threatening arrhythmias

Jun 08, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Ventricular arrhythmias — abnormal rhythms from the lower chambers of the heart — are typically treated using a combination of medication, implanted defibrillators and catheter ablation. However, for a small subset of patients, such as those who experience a ventricular electrical storm (three or more episodes within a 24-hour period), such arrhythmias pose serious medical emergencies and require further treatment.

In a study of 14 patients with , cardiologists at the UCLA Center used two newer therapies to control these life-threatening arrhythmias and found that the methods may effectively reduce signals from the central nervous system to the heart, which can control or stop the arrhythmias.

The researchers used thoracic epidural anesthesia, which is applied with a small catheter between discs in the upper and can be used as a bridge to or cardiac transplant, and left cardiac sympathetic denervation, an additional treatment for select patients that involves endoscopic interruption of the nerves that come out of the spinal cord and give rise to fibers that reach the heart.

The UCLA cardiologists found that the procedures were well tolerated and may provide a new approach in arrhythmia treatment by helping modulate the .

Thoracic epidural anesthesia and left cardiac sympathetic denervation may help control or stop ventricular arrhythmias when further treatment is needed. Ventricular arrhythmias are thought to be responsible for 250,000 deaths a year in the United States.

Researchers say the next step is further evaluation in randomized clinical trials. A large study is currently being led by the team at UCLA, in collaboration with researchers at the Mayo Clinic and centers in Italy and India.

The research appears in the June 1 edition of Circulation, the journal of the American Heart Association.

Explore further: Mutant protein in muscle linked to neuromuscular disorder

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Anger management: The key to staying heart healthy?

Feb 23, 2009

New research published in the March 3, 2009, issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology finds that anger-induced electrical changes in the heart can predict future arrhythmias in patients with implantable cardio ...

An angry heart can lead to sudden death, researchers find

Feb 24, 2009

Before flying off the handle the next time someone cuts you off in traffic, consider the latest research from Yale School of Medicine researchers that links changes brought on by anger or other strong emotions to future arrhythmias ...

Keeping the rhythm of life in sync

May 28, 2008

Beyond symbolically holding our feelings of love and compassion, the heart is a very efficient pump with a steady beat that provides the rhythm of life. Abnormal rhythm in the heart is a condition known as cardiac arrhythmia. ...

Targeted drug therapy prevents exercise-induced arrhythmias

Mar 29, 2009

A 12-year-old Dutch boy - bedridden for three years because of an inherited cardiac arrhythmia syndrome - can now join his friends on the soccer field thanks to a discovery made by Vanderbilt University Medical Center researchers.

Recommended for you

Gate for bacterial toxins found

5 hours ago

Prof. Dr. Dr. Klaus Aktories and Dr. Panagiotis Papatheodorou from the Institute of Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology of the University of Freiburg have discovered the receptor responsible ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Down's chromosome cause genome-wide disruption

The extra copy of Chromosome 21 that causes Down's syndrome throws a spanner into the workings of all the other chromosomes as well, said a study published Wednesday that surprised its authors.

How kids' brain structures grow as memory develops

Our ability to store memories improves during childhood, associated with structural changes in the hippocampus and its connections with prefrontal and parietal cortices. New research from UC Davis is exploring ...

Ebola virus in Africa outbreak is a new strain

The Ebola virus that has killed scores of people in Guinea this year is a new strain—evidence that the disease did not spread there from outbreaks in some other African nations, scientists report.