St. Joseph’s Hospital Physician Among First in the Country to Use Brand New Treatment for Patients With Common Form of Atrial Fibrillation

January 10, 2011

TAMPA, Fla., Jan. 10, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — St. Joseph’s Hospital Electrophysiologist James M. Irwin, M.D., is among the first in North America to treat patients with Atrial Fibrillation (A-fib) using new, advanced freezing balloon technology. The minimally-invasive catheter system is the first and only of its kind in the United States, and it was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration just a few weeks ago.

Dr. Irwin participated in all three stages of the clinical trial, STOP-AF (Sustained Treatment of Paroxysmal Atrial Fibrillation), that tested the safety and efficacy of the device. St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa was one of 23 centers in the United States that enrolled patients for the trial, and quickly grew to become the largest enrolling center in all of North America. On January 10, 2011, St. Joseph’s Hospital welcomes its first patient who was not part of the trial.

“About three million Americans have A-fib, and I’ve been lucky enough to work with dozens over the past few years who now are considered to be cured thanks to this procedure,” Dr. Irwin said. “I have never seen more grateful patients than those who no longer have to live with the risk, uncertainty and discomfort of A-fib.”

Medically speaking, the Arctic Front Cardiac CryoAblation Catheter system manufactured by Medtronic is used to treat drug refractory recurrent symptomatic paroxysmal atrial fibrillation (PAF). The “Cryoballoon” treatment involves a minimally invasive procedure that creates circumferential lesions around the pulmonary vein, which is the source of erratic electrical signals that cause the irregular heartbeat.

More simply: Dr. Irwin says this new technology can cure A-fib. It is an option for patients who have found that medication alone does not control their episodes of rapid heart rhythm that start and stop suddenly for minutes or days at a time.

Clinical trials found that 70 percent of patients treated with the Cryoballoon were free from AFIB after one year. Patients in the hands of physicians with more extensive experience with the procedure fared even better with a 90 percent cure rate. The study further demonstrated that treatment with the device is safe. Patients experienced a significant reduction of symptoms, a decrease in the use of drug therapy and substantial improvements in both physical and mental quality-of-life factors.

According to the American Heart Association, untreated AFIB can lead to other rhythm problems, chronic fatigue, heart failure and stroke. With a waiting list of 198 people who meet the criteria and are eager to have the new procedure, Dr. Irwin hopes he can cure A-fib in its early stages and slowly eradicate the condition in Tampa.

“To be able to cure someone, that’s really special,” Dr. Irwin said. “I’m excited to see these patients for their follow up visits and hear how they’re enjoying life with no symptoms of A-fib. It’s great to have a tool to help fix it – a really, really good tool.”

For more information, contact St. Joseph’s Advanced Center for Atrial Fibrillation at (813) 443-2029.

About BayCare Health System

BayCare Health System is a leading community-based health system in the Tampa Bay area. Composed of a network of 10 not-for-profit hospitals, outpatient facilities and services such as imaging, lab, behavioral health and home health care, BayCare provides expert medical care throughout a patient’s lifetime. With more than 219 access points conveniently located throughout Tampa Bay, BayCare connects patients to a complete range of preventive, diagnostic and treatment services for any health care need.

BayCare’s family of hospitals are: Mease Countryside, Mease Dunedin, Morton Plant, Morton Plant North Bay, St. Anthony’s, St. Joseph’s, St. Joseph’s Children’s, St. Joseph’s Hospital-North, St. Joseph’s Women’s, and South Florida Baptist. For more information, visit BayCare on the Web at www.BayCare.org.

SOURCE BayCare Health System

Source: newswire

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