During the next three months, Rogers was in and out of hospitals to treat his A-fib. Because of the condition, he had to put school on hold while he recovered. During this time, he started to consider a career in cardiac care instead of becoming a nurse. Once he resumed his education, he officially made the decision to become a cardiac sonographer.
Cardiac sonographers, or echocardiographers, are health care professionals trained to use 2D and 3D imaging technology to help identify heart problems. As Rogers’ education evolved, so did his realization that his A-fib was not going to correct itself. He needed help, so his primary care doctor at UF Health Jacksonville referred him to specialists at the UF Health Cardiovascular Center.
“I met with several cardiac specialists on the team, and they really put me at ease,” Rogers said. “They deal with difficult conditions every day, but they tailored my treatment to my specific needs. With their experience and my continuing education, we all agreed that an ablation was the best path forward. That’s when I met Dr. Catanzaro.”
John Catanzaro, MD, is the associate medical director of the electrophysiology program at UF Health Jacksonville. He specializes in arrhythmia and treats A-fib using multiple procedure options.
“Mr. Rogers had been treated several times using cardioversions, which involves shocking the heart back into rhythm,” Catanzaro said. “It’s a good procedure, but each time, Mr. Rogers’ heart would go from normal to out of rhythm. An ablation was his best option.”
With a cardiac ablation, specific heart tissues are cauterized to interrupt the path of the faulty signals and restore a regular heartbeat. Although most ablations use traditional radiofrequency energy, or heat, to scar the tissue, Catanzaro specializes in cryoablations, where the tissue is frozen to create a scar.
“Using traditional radiofrequency energy has been around for a long time,” Catanzaro said. “But it requires us to make many touch points on the heart that must be mapped together. In addition, the heart is beating during the procedure, so pinpoint accuracy can be a challenge.”
By using cryoablation, Catanzaro inserts a balloon into the chamber, inflates it to cover a large area and blasts the tissue one time with subzero temperatures. This method, Catanzaro explained, is faster and covers more surface area than the heat method, allowing the scarring to be more consistent.