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Northside Hospital Offers Advanced Cryo-Technology for the Treatment of Atrial Fibrillation

St. Petersburg, FL — On July 20, the Cardiac Electrophysiology team at The Tampa Bay Heart Institute at Northside Hospital (comprised of physicians Robert Sheppard, MD, Francisco Cardona, MD, and Dennis Cassidy, MD, of the Heart & Vascular Institute of Florida – South) performed the first successful catheter ablation procedure for atrial fibrillation in Pinellas County using Arctic Front® Cardiac CryoAblation Catheter system. Northside Hospital is the only facility in Pinellas, Manatee, and Pasco Counties to offer this innovative treatment for patients with resistant and symptomatic atrial fibrillation. This novel procedure represents a safer and more efficient approach to managing these patients than either catheter ablation using heat or radiofrequency energy, or open-heart/surgical ablation.

The cryoballoon delivers a refrigerant through an inflatable balloon to freeze tissue and disable unwanted electrical circuits that contribute to atrial fibrillation.  This new treatment option is safe and effective because it has a low risk for complications.  It has been used to treat over 20,000 patients in more than 200 centers worldwide. Findings from a recent clinical trial found that almost 70 percent of patients treated with cryoablation were free from A-Fib at one year, compared with just over seven percent of patients who were treated with drug therapy only.

 “Despite its common occurrence, treatment options for very symptomatic patients had until recently remained limited to taking life-long anti-arrhythmic drugs that carry a host of dangers and side-effects,” said Robert Sheppard, MD, Cardiac Electrophysiologist and Director of Cardiac Electrophysiology Lab at Northside Hospital. “Northside Hospital is committed to offering the most current and innovative treatments for this often times disabling heart rhythm disorder.”

About Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation is the most common and one of the most undertreated heart rhythm disorders in America. Approximately three 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, lasting from minutes to as long as days at a time.

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