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Published on April 04, 2016

Heart surgery gives local dad normalcy

By Lorena Inclan, Action News Jax

A revolutionary heart procedure could draw more medical tourists to our area.

Earlier this month, Action News Jax showed you a surgery known as catheter ablation that doctors are using to fight atrial fibrillation or afib.

The debilitating heart condition impacts nearly 3 million Americans.

It’s only been a month since Travis Jones underwent the heart procedure at St. Vincent’s Medical Center Riverside and already he’s feeling better.

Jones’ afib symptoms had gotten worse in the past year.

“If you've ever felt your heart jump into your throat from being scared that's what it feels like just constantly over and over and over again,” said Jones.

His was the 2,500th catheter ablation surgery at St. Vincent’s Medical Center Riverside. The procedure has been attracting patients from all over the Southeast and the technology is only getting more advanced.

“We have a lot of new technology. We're actually in the process of acquiring a whole new type of system for mapping afib. (We) actually can see where the actual focus is that the afib is coming from,” said Dr. Saumil Oza, co-director of the Atrial Fibrillation Institute at St. Vincent’s Medical Center.

Jones said the surgery has helped him feel normal again.

“Amazing. I'm out exercising and able to play with my kids,” said Jones.

But much of his post-operation success will depend on Jones himself.

“I've changed my diet,. I exercise every day, which I've never done before,” said Jones.

Oza said he expects the afib mapping system to arrive in Northeast Florida within the next few months.

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