Your heart may flutter or skip a beat occasionally, but it's a more serious problem for the more than two million Americans who have Atrial Fibrillation, a condition where an electrical disturbance causes rapid and irregular heartbeats. When that happens, the heart's two upper chambers quiver instead of beating effectively, which produces one type of irregular heart rhythm.
"Some people may develop shortness of breath, a sense of palpitations in the chest, sometimes even chest pain. And rarely, patients may even faint on the onset of the Arrhythmia," says Gregory Feld M.D. and a cardiologist.
Worst case scenario, the condition could lead to a stroke. Traditionally, the problem is treated with radio-frequency Ablation, where doctors send an electrical current through a catheter, which burns a piece of heart tissue. Sometimes, medication alone can restore a normal rhythm. When those don't work, there is a cool, new option under study at 20 medical centers nationwide. It's a freezing technique called Cryoablation.
"We actually freeze around the pulmonary veins, which are the source for the premature beats," says Dr. Gregory Feld. Using cold tip catheters, Dr. Feld freezes tissue to minus 90 degrees. Lesions created in the heart interrupt the electrical conductivity that causes the irregular rhythm. Cryoablation doesn't disrupt the lining of the heart or cause veins to narrow. Doctor Feld says studies so far show the cure rate to be between 80 and 95 percent. Researchers are looking for more patients who would like to join this study using cyroablation for a type of arrythmia. Studies are being conducted in Austin and Houston. If you or someone you care about has Atrial Fibrillation and would like more information on how to participate in this study, you can call this toll free number 1- 866-4myafib or log onto www.cryocor.com.