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Freeze and desist: Disabling cardiac cells that can cause arrhythmia
Date:9/12/2011

Chicago Many patients are responding to a new, minimally invasive way of treating irregular heartbeats by freezing out the bad cells. Atrial fibrillation (A-Fib) is one such heart rhythm disorder, and it's the most common arrhythmia affecting Americans. However, new research shows that 70 percent of patients with the disorder who were treated with cryoballoon ablation, the freezing technique, are free of any heart rhythm irregularities one year out from having the procedure. These results suggest that this minimally invasive procedure may be faster, safer and more effective than the commonly used approach of burning the cells in order to put the heart back into a normal rhythm pattern. Northwestern Memorial Hospital is the only hospital in the city of Chicago, and one of only three in the state of Illinois, performing this procedure. According to cardiologist, Bradley Knight, MD, the switch from "hot" to "cold" has been good for patients.

"This novel technology has the potential to help a large number of patients with symptomatic atrial fibrillation," said Knight, director of electrophysiology at Northwestern Memorial Hospital's Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute. "It represents the first major advance in the tools available to us to perform catheter ablation for patients with intermittent atrial fibrillation in over a decade."

Not only is A-Fib the most common heart rhythm disorder, it's one of the most undertreated. Approximately three million Americans are estimated to have the disease. A-Fib results from abnormal electrical impulses in the heart. The irregularity can be continuous, or it can come and go. Some people can become light-headed or faint, and other symptoms include weakness, lack of energy or shortness of breath and chest pain. A big concern for patients with atrial fibrillation is preventing blood clots or stroke. Half of all diagnosed atrial fibrillation patients fail drug therapy, and if left untreated, have up to five times hig
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Contact: Todd Medland
tmedland@nmh.org
312-926-0735
Northwestern Memorial Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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