How Our Innovation Restored an Employee’s Heartbeat

How Our Innovation Restored an Employee’s Heartbeat

Weeks after catheter ablation intervention to treat Atrial fibrillation, a Johnson & Johnson employee ran 100 miles thanks to electrophysiology innovations from Johnson & Johnson MedTech.

This week marks World Heart Rhythm Week, an annual awareness campaign to educate the public on the importance of maintaining a healthy heart rhythm, and to raise awareness about the prevention, diagnosis, and management of heart rhythm conditions.

Atrial fibrillation, (sometimes called AF or AFib), the most common heart arrhythmia1, occurs when the smaller chambers of the heart (atria) contract too quickly or in an uncontrolled way. While the condition affects nearly 50 million people worldwide,2  about one-third of patients with AF are not aware they have the condition, meaning that AF often goes unrecognized until the onset of complications. This makes raising awareness of AF, recognizing its signs and symptoms, and seeking early treatment options even more important.

In 2023, Phil Murphy, Head of Imaging and Digital Health, Translational Science & Medicine, Immunology for Johnson & Johnson, began experiencing fatigue and breathlessness during short runs. Until that point, he had been running long distances including marathons and even an ultramarathon in 2021. As an avid runner for 20 years, Phil recognized that the change in his stamina, along with his Apple watch showing a heart rate significantly higher than what it should have been, indicated there may be an issue with his heart. 


He consulted his general practitioner who referred him to a cardiologist. A seven-day electrocardiogram confirmed Phil was in AF. Phil and his cardiologist discussed treatment options. The first step was a medication regimen of beta blockers to control his heart rate and blood thinners to help prevent stroke. But as an active man in his 40’s, he didn’t like the idea of being on medication for decades if there could be an alternative solution. 

As an initial alternative to medication, in January, Phil was treated with electrical cardioversion, a non-invasive procedure that shocks the heart back into rhythm.3  While the procedure was successful at first, within five days, Phil began feeling flushed and felt a racing heart. He checked his watch, which showed he had fallen back into AF. 

“The next discussions with my cardiologist were really about what else we could do. I didn’t want to keep taking medication if I could get back to non-beta blocker life,” Phil explains, since the medication was making it difficult for him to exercise at the level he was used to. “Then the opportunity for ablation came along”

After doing further research, continuing to discuss options with his cardiologist and seeking non-clinical advice from colleagues, Phil opted for catheter ablation treatment. The minimally invasive procedure is performed by electrophysiologists and carries benefits including improvement in quality of life, long-term symptom relief and reduction of the long-term risk of stroke associated with AF.4

In February, just moments before his procedure, Phil learned that he would be receiving innovations from J&J MedTech’s electrophysiology portfolio. “I was in the procedure room when I realized that they were using J&J MedTech catheters. Working in Innovative Medicine, it was an incredible insight into our MedTech world.”



The short recovery time associated with ablation was essential for Phil. “In the days after the ablation, it just felt really good. I knew something permanently changed at that point,” he recalls. “The technology is amazing. Recovery was so fast because of the minimally invasive approach and no doubt because of the technology and the experts using it.”

Within four days, Phil returned to the office. He also began lightly exercising and soon started to train at the gym. Three weeks later, Phil was back on the treadmill. His ultimate goal: to run 100 miles – not kilometers! – during the 11 weeks between his ablation treatment and Johnson & Johnson’s 100-year anniversary in the United Kingdom, which he successfully completed. 



Since his ablation, Phil has been free from AF and is focused on raising awareness and helping to educate his family, friends, and colleagues about ablation treatment. “Early intervention is key,” Phil emphasizes. He credits the effectiveness of Apple watch technology with early detection and helping him to continue monitoring his heart rhythm.5

Within Johnson & Johnson, Phil feels especially proud to experience firsthand how Our Credo impacts both employees and patients. “The company and my manager were incredibly supportive throughout the process,” Phil says. “And then to receive the treatment and see how our innovations are used every day to change patients’ lives, was a special and unique opportunity. As a scientist, it’s given me a very different perspective.”



Check out the important resources on Get Smart about AFib to learn more about AF, early detection, and available treatment options. 



  1.  National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Arrythmias.
  2. Mensah, G, Fuster, V, Murray, C. et al. Global Burden of Cardiovascular Diseases and Risks, 1990-2022. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2023 Dec, 82 (25) 2350–2473.
  3. Get Smart about AFib. Non-Medical Treatment Options for AF. 
  4. Get Smart about AFib. Treatment Options. 
  5. Whooley, Sean. Apple Watch’s AFib detection tool earns landmark FDA approval. May 2024. Mass Device.