How doctors are helping this musician correct the beat — his irregular heartbeat

RICHMOND, Va. -- Josh Lief finds solace in his music. As a practicing attorney, the 59-year-old called music his a creative outlet. Recently, Lief began feeling rundown and light headed. Doctors diagnosed him with Atrial Fibrillation -- an irregular and rapid heartbeat.

"It's very scary when you first learn there could be an issue with your heart," Lief said. "We only have one heart and when you've been told your heart is healthy and you have good blood pressure for all those years, and all of a sudden you find out there's something wrong with you heart, it's very scary."

Atrial Fibrillation or A-fib happens when the top and bottom chamber of the heart aren't in sync. The condition can lead to a stroke or congestive heart failure if left untreated.

The most common symptoms of A-fib are dizziness, fatigue, and light headedness. Some patients complain of chest discomfort.

Dr. Saumil Shah, M.D., a cardiac electrophysiologist, said heart rhythm disorders are treated with a procedure known as Catheter Ablation. The procedure involves placing a catheter through the patient's leg and into the heart to cauterize the veins or circuits that cause the heartbeat irregularity.

For years, physicians have used X-Ray technology to guide the catheter, but Shah's practice -- which focuses solely on rhythm disorders -- is now using ultrasound guidance or 3-D mapping to perform the procedure. This decreases a patient's exposure to unnecessary radiation.

Catheter Ablation using X-Ray technology, exposes patients to a constant stream of radiation during the procedure.

"What we know is when patients are having these procedures there's a risk of radiation to the patient, to the staff, to the physicians," Shah said. "There's a big focus in our field to kind of minimize the amount of radiation."

Shah said 3-D mapping also reduced procedure time and possible complications from a more invasive procedure.

"Our goal is to keep the complications low," Shah said.

Josh Lief had the procedure performed last Spring. The ablation, along with a more healthy lifestyle, is giving Lief motivation to resume the activities that he loves.

"I'm not ready to slow down at all," Lief said. "So I need my heart beating on all cylinders."

Working For Your Health is a partnership with HCA Healthcare. Serving the greater Richmond area, Chippenham, Henrico Doctors’, Johnston-Willis, Parham Doctors’, and Retreat Doctors’ Hospital are part of HCA Virginia. Watch for Working For Your Health reports Tuesdays on CBS 6 News at 7 p.m.

Watch for Working For Your Health reports on CBS 6.

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