DOYLESTOWN – Doylestown Health electrophysiologists are treating the first patient enrolled in an international clinical trial that could help advance care for patients with difficult-to-treat arrhythmia.
The STOP Persistent AF clinical trial is evaluating the safety and effectiveness of cryoablation for patients with persistent Atrial Fibrillation (AFib). Atrial fibrillation is the most common irregular heart rhythm disorder and a leading cause of stroke in the United States. Persistent AFib is a condition in which the abnormal heart rhythm continues for more than a week.
"With ablation therapy, most patients see an improvement or even elimination of their AFib," said Doylestown Health electrophysiologist and trial enroller John Harding, MD. "To date, no other strategy has been shown to be better than just doing the electrical isolation of the pulmonary veins or PVI alone to treat persistent AFib. It is a strategy that we've employed at Doylestown Health for many years."
The purpose of the trial is to provide additional data to help guide clinicians with this difficult-to-treat patient population.
Doylestown Hospital was one of the first in the United States to offer cryoablation technology to treat AFib in 2011. Physicians with The Heart Institute perform a high volume of ablations for AFib and Doylestown Hospital is one of the top programs in the region in terms of success and safety performing the procedure.
"We participate in and have participated in a lot of groundbreaking research on the technology," said Doylestown Health electrophysiologist and trial investigator Robert Sangrigoli, MD. "We partner with device engineers to improve catheter design and performance."
Research shows that ablation is an effective treatment for AFib in patients for whom medication and other treatments have not worked. Cryoablation is a minimally invasive procedure that uses freezing technology to destroy faulty nerve tissue that causes the irregular rhythm. The preferred treatment for persistent AFib is pulmonary vein isolation (PVI), which ablates or destroys the cardiac tissue where the faulty electrical signals originate.
As AFib progresses and episodes become more frequent, the patient's quality of life decreases while there is an increase in the risk of AFib-related effects like heart failure and stroke.
Drs Sangrigoli and Harding train other physicians in the U.S. and abroad in the cryoablation procedure.
"We have a good background and experience with the technology and feel that it in many ways can provide an improved and safer procedure to patients," said Dr. Harding.
Research shows that centers with higher volumes using ablation therapy for AFib have fewer complications and perform safer procedures. As a regional referral center, Doylestown Hospital has been at the forefront in introducing new technologies and research protocols in the electrophysiology lab.
Patients in the STOP Persistent AF trial will be followed for one year after the initial cryoballoon ablation procedure. Results of the trial will help guide physicians in their choice of treatment options for persistent AFib.
About Doylestown Health's Heart & Vascular Services
Expert cardiologists and cardiac surgeons assist patients and physicians with managing risk factors for heart disease, offer advanced treatment options and provide outstanding emergency cardiac care. Doylestown Hospital’s accredited Chest Pain Center is fully prepared to treat cardiac emergencies around the clock, focusing on rapid diagnosis and effective treatment. The multidisciplinary team at the Woodall Center for Heart and Vascular Care is dedicated to providing the highest level of quality care and patient safety.