As technology evolves, so do our medical services. To learn more about cryoablation and the other innovative cardiac care services offered at NCH, click here.
After living with atrial fibrillation, or "A-fib," for nearly 10 years, Wayne Arendt, 66, needed to find a treatment option that would work. Atrial fibrillation, which occurs when erratic electrical signals disrupt the heart's normal, coordinated beating rhythm, can cause palpitations, chest pain, shortness of breath, a racing heart and overwhelming fatigue. Left untreated, it can become more frequent and increase the risk for heart failure and stroke.
During those 10 years, Wayne tried several advanced treatment therapies but nothing seemed to resolve the issue.
"When I found out I had a heart condition, I wanted to learn about the most advanced solutions for my problem," he says.
Finally, after numerous unsuccessful attempts at treatment for his heart problem, he was referred to Albert Lin, MD, a board-certified clinical cardiac electrophysiologist and medical director of Electrophysiology Services at Northwest Community Hospital (NCH).
While doing some research on the treatment options before he and Dr. Lin met, Wayne read about an innovative new treatment called balloon cryoablation, which is a procedure that electrically isolates the pulmonary veins that often trigger A-fib. As the name implies, cryoablation involves the use of a refrigerant (cryo) to freeze and ablate (or remove) electrical pathways in the heart that are conducting unwanted electrical signals.
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® 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," Dr. Lin says. "His A-fib symptoms were severe and other traditional 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 more durably."
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," he says. "When Dr. Lin came in, I just broke down. I was so happy and relieved. I felt so much better."
What is 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."Did you know that NCH is ranked as one of Illinois' best hospitals by U.S.News & World Report? Click here to learn more.