Video Interview with Dr. Steven Hao at Heart Rhythm 2009 in Boston
We had the opportunity to talk with Dr. Steven Hao at the Heart Rhythm Society 2009 annual meeting. Dr. Hao is Director of Electrophysiology for Northern California Heart Care and Director of the Electrophysiology Labs at California Pacific Medical Center and Marin General Hospital.
In this interview, Dr. Steven Hao talks about the presentation at the Heart Rhythm Society of the AF ablation trial using the THERMOCOOL® Catheter. The results showed a significant decrease in AF burden and a significant increase in quality of life, both with no increased risk of complications. This trial, showing that ablation is reasonable to consider for afib patients, led to FDA approval of the THERMOCOOL® Catheter for atrial fibrillation ablation.
Dr. Hao also talked about improvements in technologies to customize treatment to a patient’s individual anatomy. He mentioned two upcoming catheter ablation studies, one to look at catheter ablation as primary treatment for afib and the other as a long-term study looking at the impact of AF ablation on strokes and mortality.
View the video: Dr. Hao on the THERMOCOOL® Catheter Trial
Mellanie: This is Mellanie True Hills with Stopafib.org. I am at the Heart Rhythm Society’s 2009 annual convention, and we are in Boston. With me today is Dr. Steven Hao. He is the director of electrophysiology for Northern California Heart Care, and is director of the EP Labs at California Pacific Medical Center and Marin General Hospital. He works with some names that you would know—Dr. Andrea Natale is one that he works very closely with. He has agreed to share with us some of the exciting things that we are hearing about right now at Heart Rhythm Society. Dr. Hao, thank you so much for joining us today, and let me just turn it over to you to tell us what exciting things are being reported on here.
Dr. Hao: Mellanie, there was a very, very exciting trial that was presented today. It’s the THERMOCOOL® AF ablation trial, which had one year of data looking at 167 patients who had symptomatic atrial fibrillation. The study was designed to look at the efficacy, or how well AF ablation would do relative to anti-arrhythmic drugs. What the study showed, during what was presented today, was a significant improvement in the burden of atrial fibrillation in patients after ablation relative to drugs, and with that there was a significant increase in quality of life. I think that in a lot of the patients I take care of, and that Andrea takes care of, that one of the most satisfying parts of this procedure is the improvement in the quality of life.
With that, they also showed that there was no real increased risk of complications in the experienced centers—we were one of the centers that enrolled in the study. There were no strokes associated with the ablation and there was no stenosis associated with the ablation. This provides very important data that demonstrates that AF ablation is, and I think, a very reasonable procedure to consider with patients with symptomatic atrial fibrillation in that we have developed the technology to be able to do it safely and well. This study not only led to the landmark results that we discussed right now, but also led to the approval of the THERMOCOOL® catheter from the FDA for the procedure.
Mellanie: Excellent, is there anything else you would like to share with us that is happening here at HRS, or anything new that is on the horizon that patients should know about?
Dr. Hao: Well I think that there continues to be significant improvement in some of the technology that we use to deal with the complexity of anatomy with respect to atrial fibrillation and AF ablation. I like to use the analogy that everyone has the same facial features, but no one’s face is the same. So to deal with the complexity of anatomy—the continued use and improvement in three dimensional mapping systems, integration of CT scans, and there has been talk about using MRIs and other various technologies to help operators deal with complexity—and customize the approach to the patient’s specific anatomy really allows us to do better procedures and faster procedures. So there is continued work and collaboration with physicians like ourselves and the industry that develops technology to work towards that and to get procedures out there and to get tools out there for us to provide better procedures for our patients. And so there is continued development on that, and there’s a lot of continued research, but I think that the research that we’re doing that I’ve described, the THERMOCOOL® ablation trial and some of the technology, are the exciting things that are happening and being presented now.
I think in the future there are two other studies that we are participating in that I have a particular interest and excitement about. The first one is the RAAFT study, which is really designed to look at a different patient population. THERMOCOOL® ablation was looking at patients who had failed drugs previously. The RAAFT study actually looks at using AF ablation as primary therapy, before we use anti arrhythmic drugs. Is it appropriate, is it safe, and is it as efficacious? We are enrolling patients now who are anti-arrhythmic drug naive to AF ablation, and then to anti-arrhythmic drugs, and we will be following those patients out over a year. We are actively getting the site set up and then enrolling. So I think that is going to be very important and another landmark trial that will help us in figuring out which patients are indicated for this procedure.
A second study that we are discussing to be involved in is the CABANA study, again looking at patients with symptomatic atrial fibrillation, but it is a longer term study, a much larger study, to look at the effect of AF ablation on stroke, and possibly mortality. So we are right now doing this mainly for quality of life, but very well we believe may be affecting other parameters that could lead to long term patient care and other issues associated with the arrhythmia.
Mellanie: Excellent. Thank you so much for this update from Heart Rhythm Society 2009. Dr. Hao, thank you for joining us. For StopAfib.org, this is Mellanie True Hills.