Some heart problems are ticking time bombs, and doctors at Missouri Baptist Medical Center in St. Louis are utilizing a new technology to cure certain patients. For patients who suffer from an irregular heartbeat — known as cardia arrhythmia — a heart attack can happen at any time.

Dr. Karthik Ramaswamy is part of a medical team at Baptist Hospital in St. Louis that is using a Stereotaxis Robotic Ablation System, based on GPS-like technology, that makes treating arrhythmia virtually risk free.

Ramaswamy says the robotic system uses smaller wires and magnets to be more precise than performing ablation manually, which has been done for about 15 years now. That reduces the main risk, which is a puncture, significanly. The robotic system also exposes patients to less radiation.

The end result of the procedure, which destroys small pieces of tissue, is that it short-circuits the arrhythmia, giving patients a regular heartbeat, effectively curing many.

He says Baptist is among a few hospitals in Missouri that perform Stereotaxis Robotic Ablation. He urges those who suffer from arrythmia to consult their physicians to see if it’s an option they should explore.

Cardiac arrhythmia can be a death sentence for some 2.6 million people in the U.S. People with irregular heartbeats are up to seven times more likely to have a stroke or suffer from more permanent heart damage.

Until now, even with manual ablation, there were areas of the heart that were untreatable because the technique simply put patients in too much danger.

Ramaswamy says traditionally, the physician would manipulate catheters in the heart manually at the bedside, using live X-ray images to guide the stiff catheter up into the heart.

With Stereotaxis Robotic Ablation, the physician sits in a separate control room, utilizing a joystick and computer-controlled magnets to guide the movement of the soft catheter. Once the catheter is in place, a radiofrequency pulse ablates a small section of tissue, short-circuiting the arrhythmia.

Because the system uses magnetic navigation, the physician can move the catheter millimeters at a time and is equipped with technology that provides the physician with real-time access to doctors from around the world who can log on and view the case in real-time to learn and offer suggestions.

AUDIO: Jessica Machetta reports [1:14 min.]