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A Cold That Cures

In Denton’s only electrophysiology lab, certain patients with atrial fibrillation can receive an advanced treatment that utilizes the power of cold: cryoablation.

The American Heart Association reports that atrial fibrillation, which causes the two upper chambers of the heart to tremble instead of beat correctly, affects more than 2 million Americans. The condition is dangerous if left untreated, as it can lead to the formation of blood clots that cause stroke, in addition to other symptoms. Patients whose abnormal heartbeats can’t be managed with medication may be candidates for cryoablation at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Denton.

During cryoablation, an electrophysiologist inserts a catheter into a vein in a patient’s groin and uses imaging technology as a guide while threading the catheter to the heart. Once the catheter is in place, it uses electrodes to determine the source of the electrical misfire that causes the heart to beat abnormally. The electrophysiologist then freezes the specific and mostly predetermined areas around the veins bringing blood back from the lungs. Freezing these areas helps to prevent electrical misfires by the veins from entering the heart, which can initiate or facilitate misfiring of the heart. Patients generally return to normal activities within a few days.

“Cryoablation is a minimally invasive way to treat a problem that can have a serious effect on the lives of some patients,” says Haris Naseem, M.D., electrophysiologist on the medical staff at Texas Health Denton. “It is exciting to be able to offer patients freedom from symptoms so they can resume normal activities.”

To learn more about the electrophysiology lab at Texas Health Denton, visit

Fall/Winter 2011