WASHINGTON: Scientists have now discovered a technique to regularise abnormal heartbeats. A new freezing technology, called cryoablation, has shown promising results in normalising heartbeats after being tried out at Baylor Jack and Jane Hamilton Heart and Vascular Hospital. Some 2.5 million Americans alone suffer from abnormal heartbeats or atrial fibrillation, which causes deadly strokes. “It appears the major complication rate is lower with cryoablation, and patients seem to tolerate it better,” said Manish Assar, cardiac electrophysiologist at the Baylor Hospital who conducted the procedure. Currently, one of the several methods to regularise heartbeats is catheter ablation, a minimally invasive surgical option, which uses heat technology to treat the problem at the source, according to a Baylor statement.
A catheter is a long, thin, plastic-coated wire with several metal contacts on it – is guided into the heart after the physician has determined the type of arrhythmia (abnormal heart rate and rhythm). Its most common side effects are those encountered with any IV insertion, including bleeding at the site when the catheter is removed, infection, blood clot formation within the vessel, and bleeding under the skin with formation of a hematoma (collection of blood). Irregular beats involving the heart often obscure the threat to the brain. Their symptoms are shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pain, and dizziness or light-headedness. Irregular beats could be instrumental in the formation of blood clots in the heart, which break off and travel to the brain, blocking major vessels, resulting in a stroke. “Atrial fibrillation is responsible for 15 to 20 percent of strokes,” said Assar.