Freezing Hearts

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 type of irregular heartbeat.

The condition can lead to a stroke, but now there's a new cool way to fix it.

Today, a challenging hike gets Corrine Warcholiks heart going, but it's something she couldn't do a year ago.

She says, "I could tell I wasn't getting enough oxygen or energy."

Corrine has atrial fibrillation. A condition where an electrical disturbance causes rapid and irregular heartbeats. The heart's two upper chamb3rs quiver instead of beating effectively.

Dr. Gregory Feld, "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."

Radio frequency ablation. A method that burns the heart tissue or medication can restore normal heart rhythm but they don't always work.

Dr. Feld, "Those medications are effective in about 50 or 60 percent of patients, not everybody will be adequately controlled."

Dr. Feld used a new freezing technique called cryoablation to fix Corrine's atrial fribrilation.

Dr. Feld, "We actually freeze around the pulmonary veins, which are the source for the premature beats."

Using cold tip catheters, he freezes tissue to minus 90 degrees. Lesions created in the heart interrupt the electrical conductivity that causes the atrial fibrillation.

Dr. Feld, "Studies have suggested we can get between 80-95 percent cure rate of the atrial fibrillation."
And unlike heating techniques, cryoablation isn't painful. It worked for Corrine.

"It was like an instant cure,” says Corrine.

Now, Corrines' heart is back in step for good. This is Jennifer Matthews Reporting.
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