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NCH
August 2012

New treatment makes a world of difference for patients with A-fib

With an advanced cardiac balloon cryoablation technology now available at Northwest Community Hospital (NCH), patients are finding relief from the physical limitations and health risks associated with atrial fibrillation (A-fib). Among those benefiting from this new procedure is 66-year-old Wayne Arendt, who has peace of mind knowing his heart is back to a normalized rhythm.

Cryoablation is unlike traditional ablation therapies, using radiofrequency-generated heat to destroy faulty electrical circuits in the heart.
View this 30-second video animation to see how balloon cryoablation works.

For ten years, Wayne was under the careful supervision of cardiologists who had approached his condition with cardioversion treatments and medication therapies. Unfortunately for Wayne these traditional treatments would not yield a durable solution. The erratic electrical signals that caused Wayne's abnormal heart rhythm returned after each treatment, putting him again at risk for stroke or heart failure.

Then Wayne's cardiologist referred him to Albert Lin, MD, the medical director of NCH's Cardiac Electrophysiology program. According to Dr. Lin, Wayne was a perfect candidate for the new balloon cryoablation treatment at NCH. Wayne was symptomatic and it was about finding the right solution to improve his quality of life.

"Wayne's A-fib symptoms were severe and other traditional, less invasive medical treatments had not worked," Dr. Lin says. "With balloon cryoablation, our goal was to isolate and destroy the electrical pathways that were initiating his A-fib. I believe it was Wayne's best chance to get his heart rhythm back to normal."

The results were immediate and, more importantly, long-lasting. "I don't have shortness of breath and I don't have a rapid heartbeat. It has made a world of difference," says Wayne, who continues to do well in the seven months following his procedure.

Indications for Balloon Cryoablation Treatment:

  1. Paroxsymal atrial fibrillation (PAF)
  2. Failure of traditional medical therapy to control A-fib or intolerant to traditional medical therapy for A-fib

A Closer Look at Cryoablation

The cryoablation treatment method is unlike traditional ablation therapies, using radiofrequency-generated heat to destroy faulty electrical circuits in the heart. Balloon cryoablation for atrial fibrillation uses pressurized liquid coolant within a balloon to freeze and electrically isolate the pulmonary veins that cause erratic electrical signals and trigger A-fib.

The Arctic Front® Cardiac CryoAblation Catheter system is the first FDA-approved, commercially available balloon ablation treatment specifically indicated for the treatment of recurrent symptomatic drug refractory paroxysmal atrial fibrillation (PAF). Studies have demonstrated the safety and efficacy of the device in treating and eradicating PAF.

Patients who undergo this minimally-invasive procedure typically stay overnight in the hospital and return to daily activities within one week. 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.

For more information about cardiac cryoablation at NCH, contact Dr. Lin at 312.926.5342 or Bonnie DeGrande, director of NCH Cardiovascular Services, at 847.618.7663.