Device holds promise of a cure for atrial fibrillation

St. Petersburg Times, January 14, 2011
The Food and Drug Administration has approved Medtronic's Arctic Front device a for atrial fibrillation patients who don't respond to drug therapy. This week at St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa, a patient became one of the first people in the nation to have the procedure outside a clinical trial. Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, was the site of the first, just last week. Arctic Front uses a tiny balloon that is threaded up to the heart in a catheter inserted through a vein in the leg. Once in the pulmonary vein, the balloon is inflated and cooled to minus 90 degrees Celsius ? or minus 130 degrees Fahrenheit. All cells that come in contact with the balloon are killed, wiping out cells responsible for the irregular heart rhythm. Other A-fib treatment devices use heat or cold to damage the area in certain spots, but they can't cover all the area that the balloon covers.

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