Mater Private in breakthrough trial of new technologies to treat Atrial Fibrillation – 80% of patients treated made full recovery after 12 months

  • The Mater Private Dublin was the first hospital in Ireland and one of just 17 European centres to introduce this new cardiac ablation technology
  • Atrial fibrillation (AF), an abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia), affects 100,000 Irish people
  • Patients with AF are five times more likely to experience heart failure and AF accounts for 1/3 of all strokes
  • Recent international study shows that early intervention can prevent serious future complications that may require lifelong treatment
  • Leading electrophysiology specialist, Dr Gabor Széplaki, encourages Irish people to ‘listen to their heart’ this Heart Health Month
  • Széplaki: An uncertain winter period lies ahead. Delaying cardiac procedures might have a serious negative impact, therefore patients are encouraged to see their cardiac experts.”  

Thousands of patients each year could be spared potential lifelong treatment of the most common form of cardiac arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat), atrial fibrillation, thanks to earlier diagnosis and more advanced technology.

The Mater Private Dublin was the first hospital in Ireland and one of just 17 European centres to introduce new cardiac ablation technology, which significantly improves the quality of life and reduces a patient’s time spent in surgery/treatment and in many cases.

The Mater Private was one of 17 European centres to take part in a breakthrough VISTAX trial* which showed that using new technology to treat atrial fibrillation has resulted in notably higher success rates (+15%) for patients undergoing cardiac ablation.

The study, published earlier this month by EP Europace, the official journal of the European Heart Rhythm Association concluded that almost 80% of patients treated with this new technology displayed no symptoms of arrythmia/AF after 12 months, compared to success rates of 60-70% in other studies.

Cardiac ablation

Cardiac ablation involves the insertion of tubes through the groin to correct heart arrythmia, immediately treating and correcting any rogue electrical activity. A conventional ablation procedure could take up to three hours, but this minimally invasive approach allows next day discharge from the hospital and speedy recovery.

Listen to your heart

100,000 Irish people suffer from atrial fibrillation, the most common abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia) disorder in the world, which impacts over 11 million people across Europe.

People with atrial fibrillation experience disorganised and irregular heartbeats, with symptoms that can include palpitations, fatigue, shortness of breath, and a racing heartbeat.  If untreated, atrial fibrillation can result in a range of cardiovascular complications including stroke, heart failure, and heart attack.

The Head of Cardiac Electrophysiology and Clinical Lead for the Mater Private’s Arrhythmia Centre, Dr Gabor Széplaki, is warning Irish people to look out for the early signs and symptoms of atrial fibrillation (AF) this Heart Health Month.

 Increased risks 

Research shows that patients with atrial fibrillation are five times more likely to experience heart failure, 2.4 times more likely to experience a stroke, and twice as likely to die from cardiovascular disease**.  

Over the next 12 years, it is expected that there will be up to 340,000 additional ischemic strokes related to atrial fibrillation, as well as up to 4 million hospitalisations and up to 120 million outpatient visits.

Data also indicates that those with an underlying medical condition like AF could be at increased risk if they contract Covid-19.

However, a recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine shows that early intervention and treatment of the condition can prevent serious future complications that may require lifelong treatment.***


“Since the advent of Covid-19, we have observed a decrease in the number of patients presenting to our hospitals for examination or treatment of any cardiac issue,” said Dr Gabor Széplaki.

“However, cardiac issues have not gone away, and they continue to affect large swathes of the public in Ireland. Atrial fibrillation is one such issue that, if caught early, can be treated effectively. With ongoing management, the patient can get on with their life with a much lower risk of future complications. New technology allows us to free up to 80% of patients of symptoms completely after 12 months.

“Our dedicated Atrial Fibrillation Institute treats up to 40% of Ireland’s atrial fibrillation patients and is well equipped to facilitate social distancing and other Covid-19 restrictions. We urge existing patients who may not have been in to see us because of Covid-19 to consider doing so, as regular check-ups are important to manage the issue. For those who may not have sought medical advice and are at risk of or exhibiting symptoms of atrial fibrillation, we urge you to seek advice and referral from your GP to a specialist.

“An uncertain winter period lies ahead. For patients who want to ensure they are seen by a cardiac expert, the time is now.”

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