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Boy, what Microsoft has done with Azure and Visual Studio shows how different the company has become. These platforms and tools now support Mac OS X and Linux. This truly showcases a return to the core concepts that created Microsoft.

Satya Nadella is a developer, and he exemplifies why technology companies need to be led by technology experts, particularly by those who are passionate about the technology the firm builds. They never lose track of the customer because they were one. They typically resist being distracted by investors or focusing on maximizing personal compensation. They got to where they are by being great with the product, and we see this change in both Microsoft and Intel this year as people passionate about product have taken over those firms.

Satya Nadella’s Microsoft

One key proof point that this is Satya Nadella’s Microsoft is that he is actually the keynote speaker at Build, not one of his subordinates. If developers are Microsoft’s core customers, then Microsoft’s CEO, who is the face of the company, should be qualified and able to talk to them. Satya was received at the event like one of their own.

Developers approach this market very differently than investors or customers. They approach it more like a mechanic approaches a car. They may be religious about the car, but they’ll tend to want to use the best tools they can get. In fact, good programmers, like good mechanics, are often defined by the quality of their tools and their competence with them.

The initial demonstrations were less about end products and all about how to make developers more productive with the tools Microsoft provides (Visual Studio Code is free) and sells.

This step back from platform religion was also on display with Microsoft Office, which has not only been taken cross-platform as well but is also back to becoming a true platform that developers create applications for. This last was a core concept of Bill Gates Microsoft. Bill was and is passionate about product, and now it is back in focus for the firm.

Wrapping Up: The Power Of Passion

Having worked both in companies with passionate leaders and those that weren’t, I can tell you that the passionate leader is both more fun and far more exciting to work for and with. As I watched the keynote, I could almost feel the energy spread from stage and into every Microsoft employee in the room. This is likely at the heart of what will make Microsoft into a better company—not a focus on kicking Apple’s or Google’s butt, but a focus on creating incredible products again for a unique group of potentially very creative people who often need help to get around the obstacles that keep them from being creative.

This is a change that should permeate both inside Microsoft and through Microsoft’s customers to not only transform the company but the world.

At Build this year Microsoft showcased that it got its heart back, and I doubt there is a past or present Microsoft employee who isn’t just a tad touched by that.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

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Volvo Is Breaking My Heart

Volvo is breaking my heart

The secret, super-rare star of Volvo’s range, beloved by enthusiasts and more scarce on the streets than a supercar, is coming to an end. The Volvo V90 won’t be making it to 2023, at least not in the US, and for wagon fans it’s a reminder that tastes change and it can take more than just Swedish style to address that.

The V90 is, as I’ve written before, a gem even among Volvo’s generally refined range. Latest in the automaker’s long line of big wagons, its graceful design and quietly distinctive cabin do double-duty as a practical family hauler and legitimate luxury option.

Wagons may be what Volvo has historically been legendary for, but they’re not what comprise the bulk of its sales now. At least, not in America anyway. That, sadly, has finally caught up with the V90; according to MotorTrend, it won’t be offered in the US for the 2023 model year.

You could well argue that the fate of the V90 was sealed even as Volvo launched the wagon in the US. Even as a new release in 2023, the automaker decided that demand would be low. As such, it made it a special order car: any dealer could request one from the factory, but the V90 wouldn’t be stocked as a matter of course.

Instead it was the V90 Cross Country which was kept on-hand, and you couldn’t really argue with Volvo’s justification there. Much akin to the V90, only with a slightly raised ride height and SUV-esque body trim, the burlier wagon was more in keeping with American truck tastes.

All the same, it was a niche sell. In 2023, Volvo sold 1,019 of its V90 Cross Country in the US, compared to 279 of the V90. During the same period, it sold over 34,000 of the XC90 SUVs, making it Volvo’s most popular model in America, and over 32,000 of the XC60.

Sales of the XC90 and XC60 are up so far this year, quite considerably in fact, despite Volvo publicly discussing the fact that its biggest SUV is being replaced in 2023. Unexpectedly, demand for the V90 is actually up in 2023 compared to its trajectory the year before. Volvo has sold 153 of the wagons through the end of June, versus just 77 in the same period in 2023.

Nonetheless it’s a bonafide drop in the ocean, particularly given Volvo does have a few wagon or wagon-adjacent body styles it’ll be keeping in the US for now. Alongside the V90 Cross Country, there’ll be the V60 and V60 Cross Country. The latter two are a little smaller than the V90, certainly, but similarly powered and equipped.

The bigger question is just how enthusiastic Volvo intends to be in the future, when it comes to its vocal plans for electrification. So far we’ve seen EV crossovers from the company – the XC40 Recharge and the C40 Recharge, with the XC90 replacement next year expected to be all-electric too – but by 2025 half of its sales should be of BEVs and half of hybrids. By 2030, meanwhile, the automaker wants every car in its line-up to be pure electric.

The 2023 V90 was only offered with two engines in the US, and they weren’t even the company’s current plug-in hybrids. The 2.0-liter turbocharged T5, and 2.0-liter turbocharged and supercharged T6, are each showing their age at this point, but Volvo has no intention of updating them. Indeed, the combustion engine business has been hewn off, and now runs separately so that the company can focus solely on its electric years ahead.

Demand for wagons elsewhere in the world is still healthier than interest in the US; it seems likely Volvo will eventually get around to making an electric version. Whether it’ll have quite so many of the body style in its all-electric line-up, though, seems less certain. For now, then, your options for a pure Volvo wagon in America are getting slimmer, and while that may make solid business sense it also seems a damnable Swedish shame.

Av Datafest 2023 – Out In Its Full Glory

AV DataFest 2023 – Here we begin !!

This April, the world will see a battle fought by data scientists and data managers across the world. Tonnes of data will be transferred from one camp to another. Every weapon of machine learning will be applied and only the best, the most knowledgable, the most practical hackers and problem solvers will survive. There will be new heroes, who will rise to their glory and their will be empires who will fall.

Yes – I am talking about AV DataFest 2023. As you know, this April we are turning 4 and AV DataFest is our way of celebrating the occasion. In our previous article, we showered some light on how DataFest 2023 is going to turn out. Now, is the time to raise the curtains. Stay with me, as I unveil one of the grandest event in data science & analytics –  DATAFEST 2023.

In the battle of the Datavengers, we are assembling a team of best data scientists who will find answers to data science problems for human race. It is the survival of this fittest, so don’t miss this opportunity to prove your mettle against top data scientists from all over the world.

Come 1 April 2023

DataFest 2023 commences on 1 April 2023. It is a month-long event which brings together data scientists, analysts, data science evangelists, leaders & influencers from the industry. There are exhilarating competitions in machine learning, deep learning, probability, analytics & much more. Check out our latest DataFest website here.

Not only we are giving prizes to heroes in individual competitions, there will be additional prizes to overall DataFest. So, the best among all the winners will take away even more! The ranking on this leaderboard is cumulative of scores from all the competitions such as – Minihacks, skilltests, machine learning hackathon, blogathon and what’s your story.

Launch Party

The celebration begins with a Launch Party on 1 April @ 8 PM (IST). As we complete 4 years, our hearts are filled with exuberance and immense joy. We are raising our glasses to 4 years of hard work, passion, patience & success. Come toast with us and be part of our happiness.

To commemorate 4 years of our existence we bring to an exclusive session with one of the top thought leader in the industry. Come to the launch party and find out who it is.

Now, let’s find out the events which await you.

Competitions & Events

As promised DataFest  is going to bigger & better and one of a kind event. Before I introduce the competitions, let me bring out the biggest surprise of the year.

The top 3 rankers of DataFest will be our 3 most powerful Datavengers. These 3  Datavengers will be awarded cash prizes worth INR 1,80,000  (~$2750). After all, they have left no stone unturned in data science and machine learning. Isn’t it?

Rank 1: INR 100,000 (~$1525)

Rank 2: INR 50,000 (~$762)

Rank 3: INR 30,000 (~$457)


Celebrating Top Visionaries and Thought Leaders

During the DataFest, we bring you interactions with top visionaries and thought leaders from various founders in analytics & data science industry. Find out about their journey, startup story and how they were never stopped running to achieve their goal. These include inspiring stories from:

Mahesh Kumar, CEO & Founder, Tiger Analytics

Pankaj Kulshreshtha, CEO, Scienaptic Systems

Anil Kaul, CEO & Founder, AbsolutData

S.Anand, CEO & Co-Founder, Gramener

Kunal Jain, CEO & Founder, Analytics Vidhya

and many more

This Machine Learning Hackathon is not like every other hackathon you participate in. As we said, everything is going to bigger & better. So is this hackathon.

Date: 20 April – 23 April 2023

Top 5 rankers will take away cash prizes & merchandises. Stay tuned to know more details.

These are our short duration hackathons. The problem statement is going to be challenging & intense. Top 3 winners of each MiniHack will take away cash prizes worth INR 60,000 (~$916)

As Datavengers, you need powers to buck up your chances to win.

Attain these skill powers to rise up on the leaderboard. To all the top 5 rankers of each skill power we are giving out AV branded merchandises.

The Strategic Thor is a strategic thinking competition to challenge your analytical thinking & decision making skills. Test how well equipped are your strategic skills. Top 3 winners will take away cash prizes worth INR 55,000 (~$810).

These are powerful tools which are essential for any data scientist to be adept in. If you are as aspiring data scientist then take these practice tests to find your skill level.

This is a new learning initiative from Analytics Vidhya – DataHack hour is for all data science beginners out there. Come to DataHack platform daily and solve interesting challenges & quizzes in an hour. You will have a problem, community members and all the help you need to solve these problems.

It is a 15 day journey to start and learn data science in most practical manner. This starts 16 April 2023.

The Mightiest Pen is our blogging competition to evoke the data science evangelist in you. In this competitions are inviting all data science experts to share their knowledge with the world. Top 3 winners will take away cash prizes worth INR 10,000 (~$152).

How to Participate?

To participate in all the above events. Follow the basic steps:

Subscribe for DataFest 2023 updates to know all the latest updates about any competition or event.

Register for events of your interest from datahack platform

What’s else is expected?

Well – watch the stage unfold in the coming days as we send out invites to the mightiest heroes across the world. Subscribe for DataFest updates to know about the upcoming events. We will soon be sharing more details with you shortly. Look out for our next article.

This is just the beginning because the celebration is yet to start. Don’t miss it !!

If you wish you associated with the DATAFEST as speaker, sponsor or partner then write to us at [email protected].


Difference Between Pericarditis And Heart Attack

Chest discomfort, palpitations, and difficulty breathing are symptoms shared by pericarditis and heart attack or myocardial infarction. Myocardial infarction occurs when blood supply to the heart muscle is stopped, resulting in a lack of oxygen in one or more sections of the heart muscle, while pericarditis is inflammation of the pericardium. The following topics expand upon the distinctions between them.

What is Pericarditis?

The inflammation of any of the layers of the thin tissue sac (the pericardium) around the heart is known as pericarditis (from the Greek peri-, meaning “around,” and kardia, meaning “heart,” and-itis, meaning “inflammation”).

Symptoms − Pain in the center or left of the chest, palpitations of the heart, difficulty breathing, weariness, swelling of the abdomen and legs, nausea, and a mild temperature are all symptoms.

Causes − As the most common form of pericarditis, viral infection can also be caused by autoimmune disorders (especially in cases of recurrent pericarditis), myocardial infarction, cancer, acquired immune deficiency syndrome, kidney failure, and drug side effects (such as those caused by warfarin and heparin).

Treatment − Some people get well from pericarditis in around two to four weeks. Antibiotics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs), rest from vigorous activity, and surgery are all potential therapies for pericarditis.

What is Heart Attack?

A heart attack, or myocardial infarction (“myo” means muscle, “cardial” refers to the heart, and “infarction” denotes tissue death due to lack of blood supply), happens when oxygen-rich blood cannot reach a portion of the heart muscle.

Symptoms − Heart attack symptoms include those listed below−

Discomfort (i.e., pressure, squeezing, or heaviness) or pain in the chest, arm, or below the breastbone.

Discomfort which goes into the jaw, throat, arm, or back.

A feeling of fullness, choking, or indigestion.

Upset stomach, vomiting, dizziness, or sweating.

Fatigue, shortness of breath, or anxiety.

Palpitations or uneven heartbeat.

Silent heart attacks occur in certain people (often those with diabetes), and the sufferers are unaware that anything is wrong.

Causes and Risk Factors − The accumulation of plaque (comprised of cholesterol, deposits, and other substances) in the arteries is responsible for the impeded blood flow. A blood clot forms rapidly once a plaque ruptures, and this clot is the true cause of myocardial infarction. If the heart’s oxygen and blood supply are cut off, irreversible damage will occur within 30 minutes.

Treatment − Treatment for heart attack or myocardial infarction begins in the ambulance or the emergency department since it is a medical emergency. Aspirin and other antiplatelet and anticoagulant medications are used to reduce the severity of heart damage. Cardiac catheterization, balloon angioplasty, and stent replacement are all methods that can be used to unblock the arteries.

Beta-blockers, nitrates, blood thinners, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, and statins are some of the medications used beyond the critical period. Bypass surgery is an option for patients who need to get their hearts’ blood flowing again. To maintain a regular heartbeat, pacemakers are implanted in some individuals.

Differences between Pericarditis and Heart Attack

The following table highlights the major differences between Pericarditis and Heart Attack −



Heart Attack


Pericarditis is an inflammation of the pericardium, a small sac of tissue that covers and protects the heart.

Myocardial infarction, also known as a heart attack, happens when oxygen-rich blood stops flowing to part (or all) of the heart muscle.


Pericarditis is characterized by severe chest discomfort (usually in the middle or to the left), irregular heartbeats, difficulty breathing, weakness, swelling in the abdomen and legs, nausea, and a low temperature.

Feelings of fullness, choking, or indigestion; nausea, vomiting, dizziness, or sweating; weakness, shortness of breath, anxiety, palpitations, or an irregular heartbeat are some of the symptoms. However, “silent heart attacks” occur in which the victim has no warning signs


Myocardial infarction, malignancy, acquired immune deficiency syndrome, renal failure, and pharmacological side effects are among the causes of pericarditis. The most frequent cause is a viral infection.

Plaque (composed of cholesterol, deposits, and other things) in the arteries blocks blood flow. Myocardial infarction is caused by a blood clot that forms rapidly after the rupture of atherosclerotic plaque.


In this article, we explained in detail the various differences between Pericarditis and Heart Attack

Bringing Mom Back To School

Bringing Mom Back to School Revisiting the community: New MET scholarship gives Boston and Chelsea parents a second chance

JoAn Blake (MET’11) (left) and Camille Lungelow (MET’11) are the first recipients of Metropolitan College’s Scholarship for Parents. The scholarship is awarded to parents who have children enrolled in the Boston or Chelsea public schools; it pays for half of the recipient’s tuition. Photograph by Jessica Hill

The ways Boston University and its students reach into the community around us are an ongoing source of fascination — and good journalism. These connections and collaborations might at first glance seem to be one-way streets, but as each of the stories from the past school year we’re highlighting this week reveals, give and take, offering and receiving, are intimately linked.

Some days, when JoAn Blake is rushing to class, a messenger bag loaded with textbooks slung casually over her shoulder, she glances across the Boston University campus and thinks, I can’t believe I’m here.

A 40-year-old mother of three, Blake (MET’11) is twice the age of the average BU student, and her path to the University has been less conventional than most. Three years ago, Blake buried her eldest child, and when she “finally awoke from the haze of pain and grief,” she says, she decided the best way to honor her daughter was to return to school herself.

Thanks to a new scholarship offered by Metropolitan College, Blake is making good on her promise. She is one of the first two winners of the Scholarship for Parents, which is awarded to parents who have children enrolled in the Boston or Chelsea public schools and pays for half their tuition for however many years it takes the recipients to earn a bachelor’s degree.

“We are thrilled to offer such a substantial scholarship to Boston-area families,” says Jay Halfond, dean of MET. “It is our hope that the public school students follow in their parents’ footsteps and pursue their education through college and beyond, perhaps even at Boston University.”

To be eligible for the scholarship, applicants must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and have at least six college credits from a different school and a 3.0 or higher grade point average. Recipients may enroll in any of MET’s 15 on-campus bachelor’s degree programs. “The scholarship is quite unique,” says Katherine Meyer, MET’s community programs manager. “While there are many scholarship programs that target underprivileged youths, I’m unaware of any that reach out to parents.” While only 2 have been awarded thus far, Meyer says that eventually MET will give up to 10 scholarships annually.

Blake never expected to be able to attend BU. The daughter of Jamaican immigrants, she and her family settled in Dorchester in 1974 — the year a federal judge ordered the desegregation of Boston’s public schools. She gave birth to her daughter, Shaina, during her senior year in high school. Blake enrolled in Northeastern University, but dropped out after only one year. “Having an infant and being in school was just too much,” she says.

Over the next decade, Blake married, divorced, and had three more children: Charles, now 17, and 14-year-old twins Ryan and Renecia. But in 1997, her life began to unravel. Doctors diagnosed Shaina with osteosarcoma, a bone cancer that primarily affects children and teenagers, and Blake was told that Shaina had six months to live.

But Shaina proved everyone wrong. Thanks to an experimental treatment, her cancer went into remission, and she earned a black belt in karate, joined the cheerleading squad, and graduated from Trinity Catholic High School in Newton, Mass. She was a sophomore at Mount Ida College when she died in a car accident.

For years, Blake juggled two jobs — waitressing and personal training — to support her family. But after losing Shaina, she enrolled at Roxbury Community College to study biological science. “Clinical research saved my daughter’s life, and she went to college to help children like herself,” she says. “I vowed that I would continue what she started.”

Last winter, Blake’s fiancé heard about the Metropolitan College scholarship. “He said, ‘Finish what you’ve started, and apply for this,’” she recalls. Although she already had 46 credits and a 3.9 grade point average at RCC, Blake hesitated. “I remember thinking to myself, people like me, they don’t go to BU,” she says.

As she speaks, Blake absently clutches her keychain — a woven replica of the Jamaican flag made by Renecia. “But then I thought, burying your child is the worst thing in the world,” she says, a catch in her voice. “And I did that. So I know that there’s nothing that I can’t do.”

Blake enrolled in MET’s biomedical laboratory and clinical sciences degree program and began taking classes in January. She’s taking a full load — three courses a semester — and she’s determined to deliver a valedictorian speech in 2011. “I have no regrets,” she says. “The doctors said Shaina had only six months, and I had her for nine more years. Life is for the living, and my daughter lived. So I owe it to her to live, too.”

Camille Lungelow (MET’11), the second Scholarship for Parents recipient, is a 28-year-old single mother of two. She learned about the scholarship from a flier given out at a book bag drive at Roxbury’s Shelbourne Community Center. At the time, she had a small cosmetology business and was taking evening psychology classes at Cambridge College.

One of 11 children, Lungelow grew up in Dorchester and Roxbury. She was a gifted athlete who once dreamed of qualifying for the U.S. Olympic track and field team. Instead, she graduated from high school, took a temp job, and had two children. “I always thought that BU was far beyond my reach,” she says. “But when I read that flier, I felt just like Charlie Bucket in Willy Wonka. It was my golden ticket.”

In January, Lungelow transferred to BU and enrolled in MET’s psychology degree program. Balancing school, motherhood, and a full-time job is challenging, but she is determined to graduate at the top of her class. “I’ve been through some really hard times,” she says. “But I’m in a good place now, and I feel I can take on more. I tend to put a lot on my plate, and people always say, ‘You’ll never eat all of that.’ But I do, and then I go back for dessert.”

For Lungelow, dessert will be a master’s degree — and possibly a doctorate as well. “I’m going to be the first Dr. Lungelow in my family,” she says.

Once she graduates, Lungelow intends to work in the neighborhoods of her youth. “There are a lot of problems in Dorchester and Roxbury,” she says. “And I want to fix the problems in my own community before I go anywhere else.”

Several weeks ago, Lungelow brought her sons, Ameer, 7, and Qadir, 5, to campus and pointed out the Free at Last sculpture in Marsh Plaza. “I told them that sculpture is dedicated to Martin Luther King, Jr.,” she says. “I said, ‘Mommy goes to the same school as Dr. King.’”

And like King (GRS’55, Hon.’59), Lungelow has big dreams. “I’m not just reaching for the stars,” she says. “I’m reaching for the galaxy beyond.”

Vicky Waltz can be reached at [email protected].

This story originally ran March 10, 2009. 

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Bmc Surgeon Pioneers Heart Surgery For Atrial Fibrillation

BMC surgeon pioneers heart surgery for atrial fibrillation

This story was published in the BU Bridge on February 25, 2005.

David Richard’s heart has been ticking a steady rhythm since Richard Shemin, chief of cardiothoracic surgery at Boston Medical Center, performed an innovative procedure to steady his erratic heartbeat on January 12. Like 2.2 million other Americans, Richard, a 75-year-old man from Reading, Mass., suffers from atrial fibrillation, a condition where his normal heartbeat slips into a kind of spasm and the two upper chambers, or atria, quiver instead of effectively squeezing blood into the lower chambers. Shemin is one of three surgeons nationwide trained to use a device that delivers high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) energy, which, he says, promises to revolutionize the treatment of atrial fibrillation.

“This new procedure takes less time to complete than the open-heart surgery or catheter-based treatments,” says Shemin. “It optimizes patient recovery time, and it has an over 85 percent success rate.”

In a landmark operation, Shemin opened Richard’s chest and wrapped around his heart a device that focuses high-intensity ultrasound waves into the atria. The waves heat the tissue, burning a precise pattern into the walls of each chamber. The burns become scars, Shemin says, which help to fix the underlying problem in atrial fibrillation: wayward electrical signals in the heart.

In a healthy heart, Shemin explains, electrical signals travel along fixed pathways, triggering muscle fibers to squeeze or relax in a carefully choreographed sequence. But in patients with atrial fibrillation, the electrical signals deviate from their pathways, throwing off the synchronous beating. “I was constantly in and out of it,” Richard says. “It felt like my heart was going to come out of my chest — it would be fluttering like crazy. I was afraid to go anywhere in case this came on when I was away from my doctors.”

Scar tissue does not conduct electrical impulses, Shemin says, so cardiac surgeons create a series of scars that function like levees and dikes in a river, channeling the flow of impulses along a single route. For the past 20 years, surgeons have accomplished something similar using the so-called Cox-Maze procedure, which involves opening the heart itself and cutting a maze pattern in the atria with a scalpel. “That complex operation was successful in over 90 percent of patients,” Sheman says, “and the vast majority of patients remained cured for 10 years following the surgery. But it was not widely performed by many surgeons because it required extensive training and it was time-consuming.”

Shemin was one of the early adopters of the Cox-Maze, but he soon began searching for a simpler technique that could be more widely replicated. “As we’ve learned more about what triggers these arrhythmias,” he says, “we’ve found that all of those incisions in the Cox-Maze were not always necessary. So then the question was, do you really have to cut and sew the incisions, or could you use different energy sources to create a burn that would produce a mini-maze pattern of scar tissue in the atrium?”

Shemin envisioned a minimally invasive technique, where he wouldn’t have to stop the heart, because that requires using a heart-lung machine, which can introduce new complications. “I wanted to do this from outside a beating heart, I wanted a quick recovery time, and I needed it to be highly reliable and reproducible,” he says. In other words, he wanted a procedure that didn’t require “a virtuoso super heart surgeon” at the helm.

Good vibrations

Over the past 15 years, Shemin has occasionally put down his scalpel to experiment with alternative tools in the Cox-Maze procedure. He’s tried lasers, microwaves, and “cryo” (a freezing technique), all of which had pluses and minuses. But then he was contacted by a startup company called Epicor Medical, Inc., in Sunnyvale, Calif., which was building an instrument that delivers high-intensity ultrasound waves. As an energy source, ultrasound seemed perfectly suited for the job, Shemin says, because it penetrates the layer of fat outside the heart and doesn’t damage major coronary arteries along the surface. It can also be tightly focused, reducing the possibility of inflicting collateral damage to structures around the heart, such as the esophagus.

Epicor was last year acquired by St. Jude Medical, Inc., which is now manufacturing a device that looks something like a flexible U-shaped umbrella handle. The surgeon opens the breastbone and snugs the collar around the heart’s upper chambers. “Then you turn on the computer that controls each of the little segments that focus the ultrasound,” Shemin says, “and you’re done about 10 minutes later.” He currently uses a sternal incision, opening the chest through the breastbone to approach the heart. “But we’re working on techniques to insert the device through small incisions between the ribs to further make it less invasive,” he says.

Shemin flew to Lyons, France, last year during a European trial to learn how to use the device. He’s performed six procedures at BMC, which is the only hospital in New England, and one of three sites in the United States, to currently offer the new, less invasive surgical treatment.

While most doctors currently treat atrial fibrillation with medications to slow the heart and prevent blood clots, Shemin says, the new surgery is preferable for a number of reasons. “Medical management is not very good,” he says. “Many of the patients are still in atrial fibrillation while they’re taking powerful medication, some for the rest of their lives.” The medications have a number of side effects, such as extreme fatigue. When medicines don’t work, patients can receive cardioversion, where electrical paddles are applied to the chest to shock the heart into normal rhythm. Richard received this treatment six times. “That would work for a month or two,” he says, “and then I’d be back in atrial fibrillation again.”

Another treatment involves inserting a catheter through the leg and threading it up inside the heart. The tip of the catheter has an instrument that shoots short blasts of high-energy radio waves into the heart, creating scars. The problem, Shemin says, is that it’s difficult to align the catheter in the right spot, and the success rates for the procedure are not as high as the Cox-Maze. Catheterization also can take four to six hours, while surgery is rarely longer than 90 minutes.

Richard had had a catheterization done at another hospital. “It was a complete disaster,” he says. “I thought it was going to cure it, but made me feel worse than before.”

Richard’s cardiologist referred him to Shemin, who told him he was a good candidate for the new ultrasound surgery, which had previously been done only in conjunction with other major heart procedures, such as coronary bypass or valve replacement. Richard’s operation would be the first “stand-alone” procedure, where Shemin would treat only the atrial fibrillation on a beating heart.

“I was a little hesitant at first,” Richard says, “because it was the first one in the world and I was the guinea pig. But it’s turned out just absolutely great. I have a little more energy, but I’m still recuperating, of course. It feels good to not feel like your heart is coming out of your chest. As hospital experiences go, that one wasn’t bad at all. They won’t say whether it was a success for a few months, but the way I feel now is absolutely fantastic.”

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