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October 2011
Featured Story

Innovative Treatment Restores Abnormal Heart Rhythm

Northwest Community Hospital (NCH) is offering a breakthrough treatment option to patients with atrrial fibrillation, a serious heart rhythm disorder that affects nearly 3 million Americans. Known as the Arctic Front® Cardiac CryoAblation Catheter system, this new minimally-invasive procedure uses an advanced freezing technology that restores a patient's heartbeat to a normalized rhythm.

Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiologist Albert Lin, MD, says that electrical signals coming from the pulmonary veins appear to trigger atrial fibrillation. Patients experience episodes of a fluttering and sometimes racing heartbeat, fatigue, and shortness of breath. Left untreated, atrial fibrillation can increase risk for permanent atrial fibrillation, heart failure and stroke.

Cardio cryoablation efficiently creates lesions around pulmonary veins and allows the catheter to adhere to the tissue during ablation. This creates greater catheter stability.

"Cryoablation uses pressurized liquid coolant to freeze and electrically isolate those pulmonary veins," Dr. Lin says. "This prevents electrical signals from initiating atrial fibrillation."

The cryoablation treatment method is unlike traditional ablation therapies, which use radiofrequency-generated heat to destroy faulty electrical circuits in the heart. This freezing technology is the first FDA-approved, commercially available balloon ablation treatment specifically indicated for the treatment of recurrent symptomatic drug refractory paroxysmal atrial fibrillation (PAF).

"Rather than adapting tools that were not originally designed for this procedure, cryoablation is the first tailored approach for atrial fibrillation," Dr. Lin adds.

Studies have demonstrated the safety and efficacy of the device in treating and eradicating PAF. Nearly 70 percent of patients treated were free from atrial fibrillation one year later. Following the cryoablation procedure, patients displayed a significant reduction of symptoms, decreased use of drug therapy and a substantial improvement to quality of life.

Schaumburg resident Christine Vercellotti was among the first to benefit from the new technology at NCH. For years, the active grandmother of nine was physically limited and emotionally drained due to a near-constant state of atrial fibrillation. The worry of stroke was constantly on her mind.

That all changed after she received cryoablation treatment at NCH. Just one month after the procedure, Christine returned to enjoying the things she loves most. Her heartbeat is back to normal, she has more energy and her anxiety is gone. "A big burden was lifted emotionally," she says. "It's like I was carrying around a 20-pound weight and I don't have it anymore."

To learn more about cardio cryoablation at Northwest Community Hospital, contact Bonnie DeGrande, director of Cardiovascular Services, at 847.618.7663.

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Last Updated 04/10/2009