A trial of an innovative technique to cure a potentially fatal heart condition is yielding promising results, says consultant electrophysiologist Dr Sabine Ernst from Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust.

In a world-first, around 20 patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) are trialling new imaging technology, which will allow heart specialists to more accurately pinpoint the causes of the condition, and improve treatment success rates.

The new cardiac imaging system is known as D-SPECT, and the trial hopes to show that more people with AF can make a full recovery, without the need to repeat the procedure, or suffer unpleasant symptoms such as recurrent palpitations.

The D-SPECT system allows specialists to target and treat the nerve endings that are thought to cause AF, which produces an irregular and often abnormally fast heart rate. This can lead to low blood pressure and blood clots that may cause fatal heart failure or a stroke.

The trial will help establish the best way to carry out this technique, says Ernst.