Dr. Imdad Ahmed, director of Electrophysiology and the Electrophysiology Laboratory at Mercyhealth Hospital and Trauma Center–Janesville, performed the health system’s first cardio neural abltaion (CNA) procedure. According to the Heart Rhythm Society, CNA, a procedure to rewire the heart to prevent drops in heart rate and blood pressure that cause fainting, has only been performed in 71 patients across 13 US centers between 2016-2022.
Dr. Ahmed performed a CNA on Jessica Dickert, 25, in April to treat vasovagal syncope, a type of recurrent fainting that occurs when there is a sudden drop in heart rate and blood pressure, impacting more than one third of the US population. It is often associated with standing upright for prolonged periods of time, dehydration, stress or other emotional triggers.
Vasovagal syncope can impact daily activity, especially since there are no established medical or pharmacological treatments for this condition other than behavioral modifications. Many patients will receive a pacemaker to target slow heartbeats that cause fainting. However, because vasovagal syncope often impacts younger individuals, physicians are often hesitant to implant a permanent pacemaker in patients under 50 years old.
Before her procedure, Jessica used to faint sometimes twice a week, depending on her anxiety level, blood draws or if she was really excited about something. After she would pass out, she would throw up and be down for the rest of the day.
“We had to change our lifestyle to accommodate Jessica’s condition to keep her safe,” said Jessica’s mother, Cheryl Dickert.
Since Jessica’s procedure, she has not fainted a single time.
“Happiness is good health,” said Jessica who said the procedure has drastically improved her life.
CNA was first introduced as a treatment for vasovagal syncope in Brazil in 2004, China in 2012, and Turkey in 2015.
“Successful cardio neural ablation procedure will replace the need for unnecessary pacemaker implants in young individuals and will revolutionize how we treat vasovagal syncope,” said Dr. Ahmed.
Mercyhealth is a leader in heart and vascular care. Our team performs thousands of heart procedures each year, using the latest technology to detect heart disease before symptoms occur and innovative techniques to give you the best chance for a long, healthy life.