Doctors at Uganda Heart Institute (UHI) based at Mulago have successfully conducted another specialised heart procedure to correct heart beat irregulalities among 11 patients for the first time.
At a press briefing held at the Ministry of Health headquarters today, Health Minister Jane Aceng lauded the Heart Institute for conducting another specialized heart procedure, something that will cut down on referrals abroad.
For the first time, according to Dr Aceng, UHI was able to carry out new procedures for diagnosing life threatening irregular heartbeats known as Electrophysiology study (EPS) and its treatment known as Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA).
“A total of thirteen patients had been identified with irregular heartbeats and benefited from this procedure,” Dr Aceng said.
The lead specialist cardiologist, Dr Joselyn Rwebembera said the treatment for life threatening irregular heartbeats known as Radiofrequency Ablation is a non-surgical, minimally-invasive treatment.
“It is possible to treat such abnormal heart beats without opening the chest. During the Electrophysiology studies (EPS), various specialized wires are inserted into the blood vessels in the groin and advanced up to the heart with the visual aid of special X-Ray cameras,” Dr Rwebembera said.
She further explained that wires pick signals and patterns of electricity flow from different parts of the heart.
“In this way, we are able to identify the causes of the abnormal heartbeats within the heart. A special form of Electrical energy (Radiofrequency Ablation) is then delivered to stop the abnormal electrical paths,” she added.
Of the 13 patients, 11 were worked on successfully. However, two of the patients’ procedures were deferred because their conditions were a bit complex.
Dr John Omagino, the UHI executive director said all the patients worked on have done well and were discharged.
“Today, we are privileged to have four of them and they are happy to share their experiences with the public,” said.
Four of the patients whose irregular heartbeats were corrected gave testimonies of how radiofrequency ablation procedures conducted on April 3 had improved their well-being.
“I was first diagnosed with a very terrible blood pressure. I was recently invited for this procedure by the doctors and I am now feeling better and recovering after procedure,” said Mr Rahib Kiyimba, a student from Makerere University Business School (MUBS).
Patients with irregular heartbeats, according to Dr Omagino present signs like; pounding heartbeats (palpitations), dizziness, and fainting attacks and can even die if some of these irregular heartbeats are not stopped quickly.
He said abnormal heartbeats constitute 19 per cent of the heart disease burden worldwide while at the Uganda Heart Institute they constitute 25 per cent of the patients seen on a daily basis.
In January this year, a team of doctors at the institute led by Dr William Manyilirah, a consultant cardiothoracic surgeon conducted the first-ever highly specialised open-heart surgery known as coronary artery bypass grafting surgery.