Last Updated: Dec 22, 2022

Countrywide research that has been put together by experts from the University of British Columbia at the Centre for Cardiovascular Innovation has found that a new way to treat atrial fibrillation (AF). AF is a frequent heart rhythm issue that is linked to an elevated risk of stroke and heart failure. The findings of the new study show that the early treatment with cryoballoon catheter ablation or (cryoablation) might be more beneficial for reducing the risk of major long-term health issues as compared to the typical first step of therapy with antiarrhythmic drugs. The findings of the study have been released in a journal known as The New England Journal of Medicine. An associate professor of medicine at the University of British Columbia (UBC) and the head of Heart Rhythm Services at Vancouver General Hospital, Dr. Jason Andrade has said that very few out of patients dealing with atrial fibrillation who have been given treatment with cryoablation have developed more severe forms of atrial fibrillation. He has said that the new treatment has been able to improve the quality of life among these patients, and reduced recurrences of arrhythmia, and hospital visits. Dr. Andrade has claimed that the treatment with cryoablation might be able to reduce the risk of major stroke and severe heart issues in the future. 

Health experts who have been involved in the study have stated that Cryoablation is a negligibly invasive medical technique where healthcare professionals descend a small tube into the heart to eradicate challenging tissue with cold temperatures. In the past, this technique has been utilized as a secondary cure only for those patients who don’t respond to antiarrhythmic medicines. Dr. Andrade has said that the findings of the study add to the growing body of evidence that shows early treatment with cryoablation might be a more potent initial remedy for a certain group of patients. As per the data more than 1 million people in Canada, which is nearly 3 percent of the population are dealing with atrial fibrillation (AF). Health professionals claim that although the issue of AF starts as an isolated electrical disorder, every succeeding episode can lead to electrical and structural alterations in the heart, which can result in a long-term condition that is known as persistent AF. In the case of persistent AF, episodes of electrical disorder last for more than seven days continuously.   Dr. Andrade has stated that atrial fibrillation acts like a snowball scaling down a hill. There are advanced variations in the heart, and the heart rhythm issue takes a turn for worse with every atrial fibrillation incident.

The new findings of the study have stemmed from a multi-site clinical trial, that shows that cryoablation can avert this snowball effect. The authors of the study enrolled 303 patients who have been dealing with atrial fibrillation (AF) at 18 different locations in Canada. They selected half of the participants randomly and gave them antiarrhythmic drugs. On the other hand, half of the participants were given treatment with cryoablation. The authors gave an implantable monitoring device to all participants of the study to record their cardiac activity during the entire study time. After three years, the authors of the study have found that patients who have been treated with cryoablation are less likely to develop persistent AF as compared to those patients who have been treated with antiarrhythmic medications. During the follow-up, health experts have said that patients who have received treatment with cryoablation have been at a lower risk of hospitalization and have suffered less severe adverse health episodes that have resulted in extended hospitalization, functional disability, or death. The authors of the study have said that cryoablation aims and eliminated cells that induce and spread AF. They have claimed that the new treatment can result in long-lasting benefits. The lead author of the study has said that cryoablation treats the root cause of the issue and it appears it might be possible to completely fix the issue of atrial fibrillation with early intervention. The authors of the study have said that apart from patients, early interventions will benefit the healthcare system as well. At present, expenses linked to atrial fibrillation-associated care are predicted to be at 2.5 percent of total yearly healthcare costs. These expenses are going to increase by four percent in the next 20 years.