BOISE -- Almost a million Americans end up in hospitals each year because of hearth arrhythmia, a condition were a person's heart either beats too slow, too fast or beats at an irregular pace.

There is a new cutting edge treatment for heart arrhythmia that is only being done at 80 hospitals across the nation, Saint Alphonsus is one of them.

Doctors are using a new robotic system called Stereotaxis to operate on patients.

Jeff Thomas was diagnosed with a heart arrhythmia almost five years ago.

You can experience a very rapid heart rate like it is literally trying to come out, then it will just stop and start going very, very slowly, said Thomas.

Doctors told him he could treat his arrhythmia with medication but he'd have to cut back on his active lifestyle. Thomas decided he would try to live with his arrhythmia.

About a year ago, Thomas' arrhythmia became so bad he collapsed.

I was in Arizona for a 50-mile mountain bike race. I was five miles into it and I was on the ground, said Thomas.

When he came back to Boise he decided to have a consultation with Dr. Rakesh Pai, an electrical cardiologist with St. Alphonsus.

Dr. Pai was about to start using Stereotaxis.

To treat heart arrhythmias doctors use catheters to burn small holes in the pulmonary veins, blocking certain electrical signals from reaching the heart. Those blocked signals allow the heart to beat at a steady pace.

Doctors previously directed the catheters with their hands. Stereotaxis allows doctors to move the catheters using computers.

Its precision is unparalleled, I mean it is epic technology watching the catheters move inside the heart with a mouse and a joystick, said Dr. Pai.

Besides the precision, it also limits patients exposure to radiation. When doctors do the surgery by hand they have to constantly X-ray the heart to see where the catheters are. Stereotaxis continually shows doctors the catheters location on a computer, limiting the patient's radiation exposure to just a couple of minutes.

Thomas was the second person to get the surgery done in Idaho.

Thomas says his recovery only took a few weeks. I was back on a wind trainer working out the following week after the procedure.

Today, he rarely notices his arrhythmia. I'm having fun and it is not interrupting my life, and I can get back to what is important, said Thomas.

In just a few months, Thomas will travel back to Arizona to compete in the same bike race he collapsed at last year.

Thomas says Dr. Pai will be one of the first people he calls when he crosses the finish line.

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