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Upstate University Hospital ushers in new era of cardiac care for Upstate New York

Upstate University Hospital has acquired the Stereotaxis Remote Magnetic Navigation System that will allow physicians to perform remotely controlled, image-guided, computerized heart procedures with greater precision and greater safety than traditional methods allow.

Upstate is now one of only three hospitals in the state outside of New York City, using this new technology.

"This technology moves cardiac care to a higher level for patients throughout Upstate New York, and changes dramatically the way our physicians can care for one of the most delicate organs in the human body," said Daniel Villarreal, professor and chief of cardiology at Upstate.

Upstate will use the system to assist in the diagnosis and treatment of both common and complex cardiac arrhythmias (irregular heart beat), one of the most common heart conditions, affecting between 3 million and 5 million people in the United States. Cardiac arrhythmia refers to a disturbance of the heart's normal rhythm. Symptoms generally include heart palpitations, shortness of breath, fatigue, dizziness and chest pain. Without proper treatment people with this condition are more likely to suffer a stroke and have a higher risk of death.

Traditionally, the treatment of arrhythmias relies on X-ray and electrical signals to manually guide and position relatively inflexible catheters in the heart. Of paramount concern is the potential for damaging heart structures that can occur when the procedure encounters a complex heart chamber anatomy.

With the new technology, a cardiologist in a nearby control room, aided by powerful magnets positioned near the patient and assisted by computer mapping, guides the magnetic-tipped catheter robotically through a labyrinth of blood vessels to the proper location of the heart. The special catheter used in the system is softer and more flexible than a traditional catheter thus reducing the potential for distorting or damaging the heart wall.

The technology also allows the physicians the ability to monitor information, including a digital radiography unit, a mapping system and EKG readings.

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