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Doctors at St. Joseph's Hospital Stopping Atrial Fibrillation Cold
Date:7/3/2012

TAMPA, Fla., July 3, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- For years, Tampa resident Catherine DeMare had atrial fibrillation (AF) and lived with the irregular heartbeat and uncertainty that affects approximately three million Americans.  That is, until a procedure stopped her AF cold, literally.     

On January 10, 2011, just one day after the FDA approved the Arctic Front cryoballoon catheter for the treatment of AF, DeMare reported to St. Joseph's Hospital  in Tampa for surgery, hoping she would soon have the quality of life she had prior to being diagnosed with AF.

She was one of the first patients in the country to undergo cryoballoon ablation, or "freezing," of the pulmonary veins using the FDA-approved device.

"I waited for nearly three years because the procedure sounded so promising," said DeMare. 

It worked; it was worth the wait.

"Three months after my surgery, I was able to stop taking my medication," said DeMare.  "I was waiting to see if my irregular heartbeat would happen again and it didn't.  I actually forgot all about it."

Her doctor, St. Joseph's Hospital Electrophysiologist James Irwin, M.D., has worked with dozens of patients over the past few years who are now considered to be cured thanks to the Arctic Front. 

"I have never seen more grateful patients than those who no longer have to live with the risk, uncertainty and discomfort of AF," said Dr. Irwin.

How does it work? The Arctic Front catheter includes a balloon-like device that goes into the opening of the pulmonary veins.  Dye is injected to assure that the opening of the pulmonary vein is closed off.  Then a liquid refrigerant is used to scar the tissue so that it no longer spreads the electrical current that causes AF.  Compared with spot (o
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SOURCE BayCare Health System
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