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AtlantiCare offers new cryotherapy to treat common form of atrial fibrillation, Innovative “freezing” technology provides efficient approach to treating common heart rhythm disorder

News Release
Media Contacts:

Jennifer Tornetta, (O) 609-569-7010, (C) 609-335-3446,

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Betsy Woerner, 609-748-7539, (C) 609-385-6361,
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For Immediate Release:  June 12, 2013

Physicians at AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center’s Cardiac Catheterization and Rhythm Center at the Heart Institute at ARMC Mainland Campus, Pomona now treat patients who have a common heart rhythm disorder with a new cardiac cryoballoon procedure. Paroxysmal atrial fibrillation – or PAF - occurs when irregular heartbeats in the upper chambers start and stop suddenly on their own. According to the American Heart/American Stroke Association, the condition affects approximately three million Americans annually.

“In addition to being one of the most common heart rhythm disorders, atrial fibrillation is also one of the most undertreated,” says Howard Levite, MD, medical director, The Heart Institute and of ARMC’s Cardiac Catheterization and Rhythm Center. “It is estimated that half of all diagnosed atrial fibrillation patients fail drug therapy,  and if left untreated, patients have up to a five times higher risk of stroke and an increased chance of developing heart failure. This treatment method offers an efficient approach to treating this common, yet serious, heart rhythm disorder.”
Recently approved by FDA, the new system is used in a minimally invasive procedure that isolates the pulmonary veins, a source of erratic electrical signals that cause atrial fibrillation, using coolant rather than heat. Delivered via a catheter, the cryoballoon technology is associated with faster procedure times as compared to point-by-point radio frequency (RF, or heat) ablation technologies currently available. Additionally, the cryoballoon features technology that optimizes the delivery of coolant inside the balloon and improves physicians’ ability to treat patients who have a wide variety of vein anatomies.

“By treating patients with the most advanced, clinically relevant technology, we are better equipped to successfully manage their atrial fibrillation, thereby improving their overall quality of life,” says cardiologist Nader Ghaly, MD, director of Electrophysiology and Arrhythmia Services, the Heart Institute at ARMC. “Although the success rate is the same as with other treatment methods, it involves a much quicker recovery for the patient and the heart is not as irritated by the procedure.”

Patients are often referred to AtlantiCare by their cardiologists, or primary care physician. In general, the best candidates for the procedure are patients who are younger than most with heart issues—preferably in their 30s to 60s. They have typically had many symptoms of AF, and have taken medication to try to treat it, but without success. In January,  2013, a 59 year old patient had the first cryoballoon ablation treatment at AtlantiCare, which Ghaly and Christina Wjasow, MD performed.

AtlantiCare has offered ablation services since the inception of its Electrophysiology (EP) Program in 2004, for various types of arrhythmias. AtlantiCare’s team has also implanted cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) devices for treatment of congestive heart failure (CHF) with a 99 percent success rate.

“We implant pacemakers, biventricular pacemakers and defibrillators into hundreds of patients each year,” said Ghaly. “We are one of the few centers in the area that can follow up remotely with our patients. These devices have wireless capabilities. We give patients  a transmitter so that wherever they are, we can monitor their heart rhythm. The device  synchs with the transmitter and the information is sent via the Internet to the Center, where cardiac technicians monitor the readings. After normal business hours hours and on weekends and holidays, the information goes directly to an AtlantiCare electrophysiology physician’s cell phone.”

Since 2007, the AtlantiCare’s EP service has offered remote device monitoring to patients seven days a week.

About AtlantiCare’s Cardiac Catheterization & Rhythm Center
AtlantiCare’s Cardiac Catheterization & Rhythm Center at ARMC Mainland Campus, Pomona, features five cardiac catheterization labs – three catheterization labs, one dedicated to electrophysiology and one swing lab for catheterization or electrophysiology. As the region’s only cardiac surgery program providing emergency angioplasty 24 hours a day, ARMC is expanding and enhancing its services to meet the growing needs of the community, including the most complex cardiac issues.

For More Information
For more information about AtlantiCare’s Cardiac Catheterization & Rhythm Center at ARMC Mainland Campus, Pomona or other AtlantiCare programs and services, visit www.atlanticare.org, call the AtlantiCare Access Center at 1-888-569-1000 or find AtlantiCare on Facebook at www.facebook.com/atlanticare.

AtlantiCare is a regional healthcare organization based in Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey, whose more than 5,000 employees serve the healthcare needs of the community at more than 60 locations. A 2009 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award winner, AtlantiCare includes AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center (ARMC), the AtlantiCare Foundation, AtlantiCare Health Plans, AtlantiCare Behavioral Health and AtlantiCare Health Services. ARMC became the 105th hospital in the nation to attain status as a Magnet™ designated hospital in March of 2004 and was redesignated a Magnet™ hospital in 2008.

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