Pym Mumford traveled from her Syracuse home to Doylestown Health for advanced treatment for atrial fibrillation (AFib), an abnormal heart rhythm. A year and a half after her procedure, she remains AFib-free.
Pym's AFib Experience
Exhausted, lying on the couch for hours, Pym felt as if AFib was stealing her life away.
"It was alarming, debilitating and discouraging," says Pym, who once experienced AFib for five days and nights. "I felt like an 80-year-old."
Cardioversion, a treatment to shock the heart into normal rhythm, helped briefly, but her AFib returned a week later.
What is AFib?
The most common arrhythmia, AFib occurs when abnormal electrical signals cause the upper chambers of the heart to beat irregularly, affecting blood flow through the heart, which increases the risk for stroke and congestive heart failure.
Symptoms may include:
- heart palpitations
- abnormal heart rhythm
- chest or abdominal pain
- shortness of breath
"Treatment goals for AFib include resetting the heart's rhythm, controlling heart rate and preventing blood clots," notes John Harding, MD, director of the Electrophysiology Lab at Doylestown Hospital. Treatments include medication, lifestyle changes, pacing devices, cardioversion, and ablation therapy.
Search for Answers
"I wasn't going to let AFib beat me. I didn't want medication, and I wanted to deal with this problem once and for all, so I began my research," says Pym. She became interested in cryoablation, a balloon-based technology that ablates (destroys) heart tissue where abnormal electrical signals originate, using a coolant for freezing.
Pym began watching patient testimonials online about cryoablation, including a few that mentioned Dr. Harding.
Ablation is used to eliminate abnormal electrical signals that cause an erratic heartbeat. The physician threads a catheter (flexible tube) through a vein to the heart and then uses either radiofrequency (heat energy) or cryoablation (cold) to create scar tissue, which blocks faulty signals, because scar tissue does not conduct electricity.
"Over time, episodes of AFib become more frequent and last longer," says Dr. Harding, "The earlier you target AFib, the more likely your ablation will work."
Choosing Doylestown Health
"I learned that Dr. Harding and his colleague Dr. Sangrigoli teach other physicians to perform cryoablation—not only in the United States, but around the world," says Pym. Joined by her husband, they made the four-hour drive to Doylestown. "Dr. Harding offered to spend the afternoon with us. I was blown away."
"It's an honor to have someone travel so far to see you. Pym had done a lot of research," says Dr. Harding. "We tailor treatment to each patient, and Pym was a good candidate for an ablation procedure since other measures were not helping."
"Doylestown Health had the latest technology, and the team treated me very personally," says Pym. "They were kind, caring and patient, and the process was very smooth."
The biggest thrill, recalls Pym, was waking up in recovery feeling a strong, regular heartbeat. "I had some pain on one side of my groin and some bruising, but it was all worth it!"
Sharing Her Experience
"Pym created a YouTube video of her post-procedure experience to teach and encourage other patients," says Dr. Harding.
She also recommended Dr. Harding to a friend from New York who was experiencing AFib. "He too traveled to Doylestown Health for cryoablation," says Pym.
New Attitude, New Possibilities
With AFib no longer holding her back, Pym is unleashing her creativity in her new "writing hut," where she writes stories, poems, songs, travel journals and more.
"I have a religious faith that was guiding me to better health," says Pym. "Now, I'm cheerful and loving life. I'm eternally grateful to Dr. Harding and the team."
A Regional Center for AFib Treatment
Many patients come from outside of the community to the AFib Center at Doylestown Health's Woodall Center for Heart and Vascular Care due to the expertise, experience and advanced treatment options that are offered.
Doylestown Health's AFib Center features:
- One of the highest volume ablation centers in the Philadelphia region, and the highest for cryoablation
- Success rates better than the national average
- National physician training site for cryoablation
- Excellent outcomes with a repeat procedure rate for paroxysmal AFib patients under 4 percent*
- Involved in groundbreaking research involving new therapies for atrial fibrillation such as radiofrequency balloon ablation (Stellar-IDE Trial)
Electrophysiologists at Doylestown Health handle specialized and complex cases, treating irregular heartbeats with advanced technology and techniques.
- John Harding, MD
- Robert Sangrigoli, MD
- Irfan Khurram, MD
- Stephen Sloan, MD
*Outcome data from STOP AF PAS trial
About Doylestown Health
Doylestown Health is a comprehensive healthcare system of inpatient, outpatient and wellness education services connected to meet the health needs of all members of the local and regional community. Doylestown Hospital, the flagship to Doylestown Health has 271 beds and a Medical Staff of more than 435 physicians in over 50 specialties. An independent nonprofit health system, Doylestown Health is dedicated to providing innovative, patient-centered care for all ages.