Catawba Valley Medical Center (CVMC) is now offering a unique new device to treat intermittent atrial fibrillation (AFib), known as an irregularly fast heart rate.

On April 25th, CVMC and Catawba Valley Cardiology performed the first procedure with the FARAPULSE™ Pulsed Field Ablation (PFA) System. Approved by the FDA in January, the innovative technology is described as a catheter device that uses electric fields during an ablation procedure to treat specific tissue areas around the heart that cause potentially life-threatening arrhythmia. CVMC is the first in the region to use such technology.

CVMC cardiology leadership explains this type of ablation procedure does not rely on previously used extreme temperatures and treats only specifically targeted areas of heart tissue. Called “groundbreaking,” the procedure more specifically targets the tissue creating the irregularity and leaves healthy tissue intact and healthy.

“Atrial fibrillation is the most common arrhythmia treated by cardiologist,” said cardiologist Patrick Whalen, MD, who performed the first procedure at CVMC. “Treatment for atrial fibrillation includes blood thinners for stroke prevention, and medications to control the heart rate and rhythm. Increasingly, catheter ablation has been used and this therapy has evolved significantly over the last 15 years.”

He added that it has become safer, faster, and better tolerated largely due to technology and physician experience.

“We have been involved in clinical research with pulse field ablation over the last three years and are excited to offer it to patients outside of clinical studies,” he said. “Without heating the tissue or cooling the tissue, it is significantly safer and more efficient than previous modalities. It has rapidly become the treatment of choice for our patients with atrial fibrillation. Safer, faster treatment means that we can offer this therapy earlier in the disease and to a wider array of patients.”

“We are truly excited to bring this new cutting-edge technology to our region,” said Chuck Scronce, CVMC assistant vice president for clinical support. “For Catawba to be able to provide what will become the new standard of care for treatment of arrhythmias is huge for our community. Going in for any type of cardiac procedure brings all kinds of anxiety and fear. Driving to Charlotte, Winston-Salem, or Asheville – the next closest locations only to offer this procedure – just compounds that stress on patients and families. Receiving a safer, more efficient treatment option for AFib while staying close to home is a direct reflection of our mission statement: Exceptional Healthcare. Every Person. Every Time.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, atrial fibrillation affects approximately seven million people in the United States and an estimated 12 million people in the U.S. will have it by 2030. People who suffer from the condition are at a much higher risk for stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications.

Boston Scientific developed the FARAPULSE™ PFA System. [source]