Crouse Hospital cardiologist Jamal Ahmed, MD, FACC, is the first physician in Syracuse to perform an advanced, minimally invasive cardiac procedure called balloon cryoablation to treat atrial fibrillation (A-fib), a common heart rhythm problem.
Cryoablation is a treatment that uses the removal of heat from tissue to treat cardiac arrhythmias. It restores normal electrical conduction by freezing the cardiac tissue or pathways that interfere with the normal distribution of the heart’s electrical impulses.
A-fib is a type of heart rhythm irregularity that can cause a person’s heart to beat rapidly, leaving them tired, exhausted and at significant risk for stroke. Though six percent of people 65 and over suffer from A-fib, there is a subset of younger people who are troubled by the condition. Some are adrenaline affected, including athletes and long-distance runners, says Dr. Ahmed, a partner in The Heart Group of Syracuse.
Patients with A-fib are not only significantly more at risk for stroke than the average person, but many experience symptoms which contribute to a poor quality of life. For some people, the symptoms come and go, whereas others have symptoms all the time. A-fib symptoms can include general fatigue, rapid and irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath and anxiety and fatigue when exercising.
The cryoablation procedure uses a cold application to a heart arrhythmia instead of a heat application, which is traditionally used in radio-frequency catheter ablation. There are several advantages to balloon cryoablation over traditional heat ablation, according to Dr. Ahmed. “There’s less inflammation and pain post procedure and more stability for the ablation catheter.”
“We are proud to build on Crouse Hospital’s leadership in cardiac care by offering the latest electrophysiology advances and treatment to Central New York patients,” says Kwabena Boahene, MD, medical director of Crouse’s Electrophysiology program and partner in Cardiology PC. Dr. Boahene, along with Traian Anghel, MD, also a partner in The Heart Group of Syracuse, were both instrumental in bringing cardiac cryoablation services to Crouse’s Miron Cardiac Care Center.
With the use of freezing technology, there is minimal tissue disruption of the inner lining of the heart, which can occur when heating energy is used. Other advantages include a reduction in the amount of radiation exposure to the patient during the procedure and reduction of procedural complexity. In addition, a cardiac cryoablation procedure time is typically reduced by 50 percent compared to the traditional radiofrequency method and patients are able to go home the next day. All three cardiologists are now performing the procedure at Crouse.