Piedmont Heart Institute physicians now training others across the country on new treatment.
ATLANTA, Ga. (February 1, 2011)—Physicians at the Piedmont Heart Institute are the first in Georgia to offer the Arctic Front® Cardiac CryoAblation Catheter system, the first and only cryoballoon in the United States indicated to treat drug refractory recurrent symptomatic paroxysmal atrial fibrillation (PAF), a serious heart rhythm disorder that affects millions of Americans. Recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the innovative cryoballoon treatment involves a minimally-invasive procedure that efficiently creates lesions around the pulmonary veins, which is the source of erratic electrical signals that cause the irregular heartbeat.
“Our cardiologists have been involved in advancing this technology for some time,” said William D. Knopf, M.D., chief operating officer of Piedmont Heart Institute and vice president of Cardiovascular Services at Piedmont Hospital. “Now that this powerful new treatment option is available to our patients, we will continue to advocate its usage by sharing our knowledge through training.”
Dan Dan, M.D., and Andy Wickliffe, M.D. of the Piedmont Heart Institute, who played a part in the development of the new treatment, have traveled across the country providing their expertise to other cardiologists interested in offering the procedure to their patients. Over a half-dozen patients of Piedmont Heart Institute in Georgia have already benefited from the new procedure since its introduction in late 2010.
Unlike traditional ablation treatments that use radiofrequency, or heat, to destroy faulty electrical circuits in the heart, the balloon-based technology of Arctic Front is novel because it ablates cardiac tissue through the use of a coolant rather than heat, which is delivered through a catheter. This freezing technology allows the catheter to adhere to the tissue during ablation, allowing for greater catheter stability.
“The value of the new cryoablation technology over existing ablation methods is that it enables physicians to safely and effectively isolate the pulmonary veins via a simple, efficient approach,” said Dr. Dan. “This minimally invasive procedure gives patients peace-of-mind that their heart may be restored to an appropriate rhythm and they can resume their normal, daily activity following the treatment.”
According to the STOP-AF (Sustained Treatment of Paroxysmal Atrial Fibrillation) trial, which served as the basis for FDA approval, 69.9 percent of patients treated with Arctic Front achieved treatment success at 12 months, compared to 7.3 percent of patients treated with drug therapy only. The study also demonstrated that treatment with the device is safe, with limited procedure-related adverse events (3.1 percent), and a reduction in adverse events caused by atrial fibrillation when compared to drug therapy. Additionally, patients treated with Arctic Front displayed a significant reduction of symptoms, a decrease in the use of drug therapy and substantial improvements in both physical and mental quality-of-life factors.
About the Arctic Front Cardiac CryoAblation Catheter System
The Arctic Front Cardiac CryoAblation Catheter System is designed to be used with fluoroscopy and does not require the use of complex, three-dimensional mapping systems. The technologies offered in the system include:
- The Arctic Front Cryoballoon, which inflates and fills with coolant to ablate the tissue where the pulmonary veins enter the left atrium;
- The FlexCath® Steerable Sheath, which helps deliver and position the cryocatheter in the left atrium;
- The Freezor® MAX Cardiac CryoAblation Catheter, which is a single-point catheter used to provide additional ablations, as needed; and
- The CryoConsole, which houses the coolant, electrical and mechanical components that run the catheters during a cryoablation procedure.
About Atrial Fibrillation
Atrial fibrillation is the most common and one of the most undertreated heart rhythm disorders in America. Approximately 3 million Americans are estimated to have the disease, and about 40 percent don’t exhibit symptoms and may be under-diagnosed.
Half of all diagnosed atrial fibrillation patients fail drug therapy*, and if left untreated patients have up to a five times higher risk of stroke** and an increased chance of developing heart failure. Additionally, since atrial fibrillation is often age-related, as the U.S. population continues to grow older, the need for more effective treatment options is escalating.
Paroxysmal atrial fibrillation (PAF) is a type of atrial fibrillation in which irregular heartbeats in the upper chambers start and stop suddenly on their own, usually for minutes or days at a time.
For more information on Piedmont Heart Institute and to take a free, online heart risk assessment, visit piedmontheart.org.