“Knowledge is power,” says Wayne Arendt, 66, a cardiac patient at Northwest Community Hospital (NCH). “When I learned I had a heart condition, I wanted to learn about the most advanced solutions for my problem.”
Knowledge is what Wayne went searching for one day in 2011 – knowledge about the newest treatments for atrial fibrillation, or “A-fib.” Wayne had been dealing with A-fib on and off for 10 years, and he was tired of it. Atrial fibrillation occurs when erratic electrical signals disrupt the heart's normal, coordinated beating rhythm. It can cause shortness of breath, a racing heart and overwhelming fatigue. Left untreated, it could become more frequent and increase Wayne’s risk for heart failure and stroke.
Wayne had been under the careful supervision of cardiologists affiliated with Northwest Community Hospital. They had tried several advanced therapies – two medications and two electrical shock treatments (cardioversions) – to get his heart’s rhythm back on track, but none had worked for long.
Finally, he was referred to Albert Lin, MD, a board-certified clinical cardiac electrophysiologist on staff at Northwest Community Hospital. Electrophysiology (EP) is the science of diagnosing and treating electrical activities in the heart. Wayne was relieved to discover that Dr. Lin practices at NCH in Arlington Heights as well as the city. “I dreaded the inconvenience of going into the city for treatment,” Wayne added. “It was such a relief to know I could get the expert treatment I needed close to home.”
Wayne decided to do some research on treatment options before he and Dr. Lin met. He read about an innovative new treatment called balloon cryoablation, designed specifically for treating atrial fibrillation. Balloon cryoablation is a procedure to electrically isolate the pulmonary veins that often can trigger A-fib. Wayne was thrilled to learn that Dr. Lin is one of the few physicians in the area who has the knowledge and experience to perform this innovative procedure.
The Arctic Front® Cardiac CryoAblation Catheter system is the first FDA-approved balloon ablation technology commercially available for the treatment of atrial fibrillation, which means it was designed specifically to treat A-fib. “Wayne was a perfect candidate for this treatment,” says Dr. Lin. “His A-fib symptoms were severe and other traditional, less invasive medical treatments had not worked. With balloon cryoablation, our goal was to isolate and destroy the electrical pathways that were conducting the erratic signals to the heart. I believe it was Wayne’s best chance to get his heart rhythm back to normal.”
Wayne was encouraged by the success rates of this procedure. He was further encouraged by Cynthia Bender, RN, MSN, APN-CNP, a nurse practitioner for the Electrophysiology Program at NCH. “Cynthia helped me and my family understand the procedure from a personal perspective,” says Wayne. “Her help was invaluable.” “I think Wayne knew what he wanted,” says Cynthia, “He just needed some reassurance.”
“I believe I inherited this condition,” says Wayne. “My father was always tired. He’d come home, eat dinner and go to bed. When he died of stomach cancer, I saw on the medical report that A-fib was a contributing factor. My older brother has had a stroke too, I did not want to go down that path. I want to be here to enjoy my life and my grandchildren.”
In November 2011, Wayne underwent the cryoablation procedure. The results were immediate. When Dr. Lin came in to check on him, Wayne found himself overwhelmed with gratitude and emotion. “I think I cry easier nowadays,” remarked Wayne. “When Dr. Lin came in, I just broke down. I was so happy and relieved. I felt so much better.”
Wayne’s message to others suffering from atrial fibrillation? “Knowledge is power. Don’t just sit there, learn something. Get it checked out. Talk to your doctor about treatment options,” he says. “If sharing my experience and knowledge can help just one person take better care of his or her heart health, then telling my story is worth it.”
Learn more about Cardiac CryoAblation at NCH.
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