HCPLive Network

Heart Freezing Procedure Deemed Successful

Heart A cutting-edge procedure that involves freezing part of the heart in order to cure atrial fibrillation was successful for Maui resident Leslie Granat, one of the first patients in the nation to try this new method.
Granat, 68, suffered from atrial fibrillation for almost two years before going to St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix to get help for her condition.  Granat’s doctor, Wilber Su, told her about the new procedure known as Cryoballoon Ablation that, in some cases, can enable doctors to isolate to pulmonary veins using a safer and more efficient approach.
Cryoballoon Ablation is a method in which a catheter is delivered to the heart through a vein in the leg to freeze the abnormal electricity-conducting tissue around the heart’s pulmonary vein with coolant.  Once the correct area is found, the tissue is frozen to negative 80 degrees Celsius to eradicate, or ablate, it.  This electric disturbance in the heart is then cured, thus restoring the heart to a healthy rhythm.
The procedure typically takes two to three hours to complete and offers significant advantages over alternative treatments like medications or radiofrequency ablation.  The medications available today only work in about 40% of patients.
Before the surgery Granat said she could not walk to the bathroom without gasping for air but can now work on her breathing without worrying about her heart.  “I feel so fortunate to have found this new, non-invasive procedure at St. Joseph’s, because there is no surgical treatment of a-fib available [in Hawaii],” she added.
Dr. Su pointed out that Granat’s existing lung condition, pulmonary embolism, made her atrial fibrillation complex and far too difficult to treat using traditional ablation methods or medication.
“In my practice, most patients require only an overnight stay in the hospital, with minimal recovery time and often avoid the long term use of anti-arrhythmic drugs and ultimately can even stop blood thinners. With the minimally invasive Cryoballoon Ablation procedure, we were able to cure Leslie’s heart condition while avoiding riskier and more intensive surgeries. This is an exciting time for those of us who have previously been challenged to cure this condition without the right tools,” said Su.
Dr. Su has performed more Cryoballoon Ablations than any physician in the US since the FDA approved the method months ago.  He continues to be one of the most active teachers for this new procedure in the US.
Around the Web
Doctor Freezes Part of Maui Woman’s Heart to Cure Dangerous Condition [Hawaii Reporter]
Freeze and Desist: Disabling Cardiac Cells That Can Cause Arrhythmia [Market Watch]

Further Reading
Study finds a lower rate of recurrent atrial tachyarrhythmias among patients with paroxysmal atrial fibrillation who underwent radiofrequency catheter ablation as a first-line treatment rather than taking antiarrhythmic drugs.
Magnetic resonance imaging measurements of left atrial scarring in patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) are associated with poor outcomes of first AF catheter ablation, according to a study published in the Feb. 5 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
A force-sensing device for performing catheter ablation on those suffering from atrial fibrillation is being tested in a multicenter trial.
Medtronic, Inc., has announced results of a clinical trial of its ablation system for patients with persistent atrial fibrillation.
For patients with paroxysmal atrial fibrillation with no history of antiarrhythmic drug use, there is no significant difference in the cumulative burden of atrial fibrillation over two years between the treatment strategies of radiofrequency catheter ablation or antiarrhythmic agents, according to a study published in the Oct. 25 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
Video overview of cardiac catheter ablation and the heart rhythm disorders that may benefit from the procedure.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a new ablation catheter for use in patients with medication-resistant paroxysmal atrial fibrillation.
More Reading