- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
Atrial Fibrillation: The LATEST, SAFEST Treatment
Cryoablation: The Answer for Chronic Atrial Fibrillation?
Atrial fibrillation, is the most common arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm) that's encountered in the general population.
People who have persistent atrial fibrilation (AF) may be out of rhythm for long periods of time, for example, weeks or months. Medications and/or cardioversion (medical procedure performed to restore normal heart rhythm, most times performed by sending electric shocks to the heart) may be required to get the heart back in rhythm, since it won't happen on its own.
Permanent or chronic AF means that no matter what medications or number of cardioversions are tried, the heart cannot be kept in normal rhythm.
So what do you do if you have permanent or chronic AF? Cryoablation may be the answer.
What Is Cryoablation and What Makes It Different?
Cryoablation uses a catheter to freeze heart tissue that may be causing the irregular beat, which is much different from the current treatment, RF ablation, which uses heat.
Cryoablation offers many advantages: 1). the procedure is much more comfortable for the patient, with little or no pain. 2). because of the use of "cold" temperature, the catheter sticks to the tissue it touches avoiding slippage and damage to surrounding areas. 3.) Cryoablation permits testing of the area to determine if it's causing the irregular heartbeat, unlike RF ablation. 4.) Cryoablation, freezes tissue instead of burning it so risk to critical, surrounding heart structures is minimized. 5.) Cryoablation reduces the risk of perforation to the arterial wall, for example. 6.) with Cryoablation the risk of "crust" formation is minimized. (When heat is used as with RF ablation, a crust can form over the affected tissue that may fall off, lodge in a blood vessel and cause a blood clot which can lead to stroke.)
Cryoablation: A New Treatment: Do Your Research...
Cryoablation is a new treatment and from my research, I couldn't find many physicians well-versed in or using the procedure. But because of the advantages over RF ablation, I think it would behoove you to find a cardiologist who regularly performs it should you suffer from AF, and your doctor presents you with treatment options that do NOT include Cryoablation.
Please check the website of Dr. Walter Kerwin, cardiac electrophysiologist, Cedars-Sinai: http://afibcryoablation.com for more detailed information.