“I was a healthy young man in my early thirties, a father of young children, and working a physically demanding job in construction when I began experiencing symptoms of Atrial Fibrillation. At first, my episodes were infrequent—3-4 times per year lasting a few hours. While infrequent, these episodes often resulted in visits to urgent care, specialists, and emergency rooms.
One particularly frightening and intense arrhythmia episode happened when I was in the Philippines. I had just completed a three-year deployment to Afghanistan. I expected the episode would resolve on its own, but it just wouldn’t end. I really honestly felt like I was going to die.
After returning to the US, I went for a while without an arrhythmia until again I was hit with one that wouldn’t go away. I went to bed thinking it would resolve on its own, but my wife took me to the emergency room where my heart had to be shocked back into rhythm with paddles.
Over the years I had seen various specialists and tried different prescription medications—some with terrible side effects that affected my quality of life. Occasionally I could manage by repositioning (adjusting my body position or holding my breath), but each episode was unpredictable. It added a weight of worry and uncertainty to our daily lives—Did I have my medication? Have we planned which E.R. my wife would have to take me to if I have another uncontrollable episode?
My career led us to move to southern California, and around that time my episodes became more frequent—multiple per week. I just wanted some normalcy. I went back to the doctor, and this was the first time I was referred to an electrophysiologist. Dr. Bhakta impressed me with his detailed knowledge of arrhythmias and with his commitment to using the most state-of-the-art technology in his practice.
Dr. Bhakta described robotic cardiac ablation as an option for arrhythmia patients like me. He described the design of the gentle magnetic catheter and the precision offered by robotics. My sister had had a radiofrequency ablation in the past, but I had no idea the technology had come so far.
I tried not to worry too much in the days leading up to my procedure, but the night before my ablation I went online to learn what to expect. I found videos of patients who described their experience and positive outcomes. One video even showed a similar operating room with the Stereotaxis system. This put me at ease.
I received excellent care at Desert Regional. The day of the procedure, I remember looking at the clock at 7:30 am then waking up in recovery around 12:30 pm. I could feel a difference right away. By 6:00 pm I was up and on my feet and released the next morning.
Dr. Bhakta said he was very pleased with the procedure. While putting off therapy for years my heart had accumulated significant electrical damage. Although my muscle function was good, my heart circuitry looked like that of a 75 year-old.
I haven’t had any episodes since having the robotic cardiac ablation, and I’ve noticed a big difference. My heart works the way it’s supposed to work. My quality of life has completely improved. It’s like night and day.
If I had known what I know now—the advanced technology that’s available and the type of outcomes it could provide – I would have had robotic cardiac ablation as soon as possible instead of suffering all those years.”