Your Health Today Magazine

Cardiac Ablation


"He gave me hope for a better life..." says Patricia House.

With Relief from Atrial Fibrillation, Patricia House's Heart is Playing in Tune

Untreated, atrial fibrillation often leads to stroke. St. Anthony's has many state-of-the-art options for treatment of atrial fibrillation.

Patricia House, 79, of St. Charles is an active, spry woman who enjoys playing with her grandchildren, gardening, and singing in the church choir. But when she noticed her heart was beating irregularly and she started feeling too weak to navigate the church’s long staircase, she knew something was wrong.

House was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, an irregular and often rapid heart rate that impedes blood flow to the body. Atrial fibrillation is the most common heart rhythm problem in the United States, said Gregory Botteron, M.D., Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiologist with St. Anthony’s Heart Specialty Associates. It affects three million Americans, and its incidence is on the rise due to an aging population and rising heart disease rates.

“Being in atrial fibrillation can make you feel very bad and, more importantly, can cause blood clots to form in your heart, which leads to stroke,” noted Julie Milke, R.N., nurse assistant to Dr. Botteron. House recalled that the A-Fib kept her feeling worn out all the time. “My heart would not stay in rhythm. It’s no fun,” she said.

Dr. Botteron specializes in therapy for atrial fibrillation, averaging about 350 ablation procedures each year. Throughout his career, he has performed more than 1,000 ablation procedures to correct atrial fibrillation, and more than 3,500 ablations for heart rhythm problems, more than any other single cardiologist in the St. Louis area.

“We take five catheters from the groin to inside the heart, where we eliminate the tissue that we believe is responsible for the atrial fibrillation,” Dr. Botteron explained of the outpatient procedure. “St. Anthony’s (home to the state-of-the-art Electrophysiology Lab) is the largest center in the region for this type of ablation; this is an area of expertise for us.”

House was the first patient in Missouri to undergo a procedure using the THERMOCOOL® SMARTTOUCH® Catheter, which enables physicians to accurately control the amount of contact force applied to the heart wall during radio frequency catheter ablation procedures. Providing doctors with the ability to apply this stable contact force during such procedures has been shown to improve patient outcomes.

“This is the most exciting advancement in my field in the last 10 years,” Botteron said.

Patricia is glad she underwent the procedure. “It turned out to be a fairly simple thing for me. The first few days I was a little sore,” she recalled, “but really, nothing painful.”

Due to her newly restored vigor, House is singing in her church choir again – and singing the praises of Dr. Botteron. “He was very kind and caring,” she said. “He gave me hope for a better life, and that is definitely what I’m experiencing.”

A recognized leader in cardiac care, St. Anthony's:

  • Is home to the John K. Pruellage Heart & Vascular Center for advanced heart care.
  • Was first in the region to offer a three-dimensional color heart mapping system with GPS technology, which enables doctors to perform cardiac ablation procedures with pinpoint accuracy.
  • Is home to the region’s only Heart Evaluation And Rapid Treatment (H.E.A.R.T.) Unit, which provides efficient and thorough treatment in a hotel-like setting for outpatients with non-life-threatening heart issues.
  • Is home to an acclaimed cardiac surgery team, the Heart Specialty Associates, with offices in Kirkwood and South County.
  • Has as its Chief Medical Officer David Morton, M.D., a renowned cardiologist who draws patients from across the state.