Restoring the Heart’s Natural Rhythm
Cryoablation: Another option for heart rhythm disorders at Inova Loudoun Hospital
The heart, powered by its own natural electrical wiring, beats 60 to 100 times per minute while at rest. But for people with supraventricular tachycardia (SVT), abnormal circuitry near the heart’s ventricles produces a surplus electrical pathway, causing a rapid, sometimes irregular pulse rate of well over 100 beats per minute. SVT can cause frequent dizziness and occasionally fainting.
To date, treatments for SVT have included medication and catheter ablation using radiofrequency energy, which uses heat to fix the heart’s abnormal rhythms. More recently, heart rhythm specialists (cardiac electrophysiologists) at Inova Heart and Vascular Institute at Inova Loudoun Hospital have begun offering cryoablation, a safe, nonsurgical method for treating SVT.
“Typically we use cryoablation when we’re having to interrupt an abnormal heart circuit that’s causing abnormal rhythms near the heart’s natural electrical wiring. Although the risk for damaging that electrical wiring is very low, cryoablation almost eliminates that risk,” says Walter Atiga, MD, a cardiac electrophysiologist at Inova Loudoun Hospital.
During cryoablation, a catheter is threaded through the blood vessels to the heart. A tiny electrode at the end of the catheter delivers extreme cold to the abnormal tissue to prevent it from transmitting electrical impulses. Ablative therapy may cure a patient of SVT so that they no longer need medication.
“We’re excited to offer this treatment option to patients here in Loudoun County,” says Dr. Atiga. “I provide this service at Inova Fairfax Hospital regularly, and now patients in this area won’t have to travel so far to receive it.”
Just a Heartbeat Away