A new device ‘Arctic Front’ made by Medtronic Inc., of Minneapolis, showed promise in treating most common type of irregular heartbeat, otherwise not treatable by anti arrhythmic drugs. This device employs a technique that freezes the heart tissue with a balloon catheter to treat the heart rhythm disorder and was found to be 10 times better than the drug therapy.
The device uses a Cryoablation Catheter System, which lasts for at least three hours and involves doctors inserting a balloon catheter into a vein in the heart’s left auricle. The balloon is then filled with a liquid, which then kills the abnormal heart tissue.
The study results involving 245 patients with paroxysmal atrial fibrillation (a condition marked by intermittent episodes of abnormal heart rhythm that causes the upper chambers of the heart to quiver), showed that nearly 70 percent of those who were put on the ablation system remained free of arrhythmias a year after the surgery compared to just seven percent of those who received the drug therapy. During the follow-up period, 97 percent of patients who got the procedure patients did not suffer heart attack, stroke or death as against 92 percent of those who received drug therapy.
A side effect- pulmonary vein narrowing- was seen in just 3 percent of the patients who underwent Cryoablation and 11 percent reported a damage or irritation to the nerve that controls the diaphragm.
Speaking of this trial sponsored by Medtronic, Dr. Douglas Packer of Mayo Clinic, the lead investigator of the study said, “This is the best data we have at this point in support of Cryoablation (to treat atrial fibrillation).”
Atrial fibrillation is the most common heart disorder, affecting 2.2 million Americans and 10 million people worldwide. It significantly raises the risk of stroke.
Written by Snigdha