New Treatment For Patients With Atrial Fibrillation

Walking her dog was nearly impossible until Susan Bercan underwent cryoablation, a minimally invasive treatment for atrial fibrillation. Now she enjoys daily walks with Lacey.

Breathless and exhausted, 60-year-old Susan Bercan felt her heart was failing her. Cryoablation, a new treatment option for atrial fibrillation now available at University Hospitals Parma Medical Center, has breathed new life into patients like Bercan.

“I was on death’s door ­– I could not breathe, and all I did was sleep,” says Bercan, who feels like a new person after cryoablation. “Now I’m doing better than great.”

Atrial fibrillation, the most common heart rhythm disorder and one of the most undertreated cardiac conditions, affects more than 3 million Americans. Untreated atrial fibrillation gives patients a fivefold increase in stroke risk. For patients whose condition is no longer sufficiently managed with medication, this minimally invasive procedure performed in the cardiac catheterization lab opens possibilities for patients of all ages.

In cryoablation, the abnormal cardiac tissue is frozen – rather than burned – to disable unwanted electrical circuits. Following a procedure of just two to three hours, rather than approximately six for radiofrequency ablation, patients recover overnight in the hospital and typically go home in 24-36 hours.

Cryoablation is expected to decrease the frequency and severity of atrial fibrillation attacks, eliminating or reducing symptoms such as shortness of breath, fatigue and weakness. A large clinical trial found that almost 70 percent of patients treated with cryoablation were free from its symptoms at one year, compared with 7.3 percent of patients treated solely with drug therapy.

 “Our primary concern when treating atrial fibrillation is to return the patient’s heart to a normal rhythm, reduce the risk of stroke and improve quality of life,” says James Ramicone, DO, who partners with Bartolomeo Giannattasio, MD in performing these procedures at both UH Parma Medical Center and Southwest General Health Center. “We are seeing amazing results from our patients.”


CJ Sheppard

Senior Communications Strategist, University Hospitals Parma Medical Center

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Volume 8, Issue 12, Posted 6:52 PM, 12.04.2016