St. David’s Medical Center is looking for participants for a new study conducted by a physician at the hospital’s Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia Institute.

To be considered, patients must be overweight or obese and scheduled to undergo a catheter ablation procedure at St. David’s to treat atrial fibrillation, an irregular heartbeat.

The Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia Institute will follow the patients for a year to see how weight loss impacts the outcome of the atrial ablation procedure. The research is International Review Board approved, and the lead physician is Dr. Sanghmitra Mohanty.

Fifty people are needed. Patients will be randomly assigned to study and control groups.

Study group patients will receive free individual counseling sessions with a dietitian and supervised exercise sessions three times a week. After 36 sessions, they will receive a personalized home exercise plan to continue on their own. They will be expected to continue the diet and exercise intervention for one year and should be available to return phone calls and emails regarding their compliance and progress.

Those in the control group will be given general lifestyle advice only.

So far about 10 people have signed up for the study. There is no deadline to enroll.

"So far the weight-loss plan is working very well for all of our enrollees; patients are reporting substantial improvement in quality of life," Mohanty says.

To inquire about enrolling in the study, contact Tamara Metz (512-544-8176, or Mitra Mohanty (512-544-8198,