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Three Penn State Health Hospitals Introduce New Technology for Treatment of Atrial Fibrillation

Three Penn State Health Hospitals Introduce New Technology for Treatment of Atrial Fibrillation

by Penn State Health

Pictured above: Dr. Mario Gonzalez and Dr. Gregory Burkman (background) performed the first pulsed field ablation for Penn State Health Heart and Vascular Institute using a Farapulse pulsed field ablation system on Monday, June 3.

Three Penn State Health hospitals are among the first in Pennsylvania to offer patients a new technology for the treatment of atrial fibrillation (AFib), the most common type of heart arrhythmia.

The FARAPULSE Pulsed Field Ablation (PFA) System uses a catheter to target tissue associated with abnormal heart rhythms by administering rapid electrical impulses. This method differs from current ablation therapies, which employ extreme heat or cold to burn or freeze such tissue. With this new therapy, electrophysiologists can eliminate affected heart tissue, minimizing damage to adjacent structures such as the esophagus and nearby nerves.

As a result, patients can undergo a faster and safer procedure.

AFib occurs when the upper chambers of the heart – the atria – beat too rapidly and with an irregular rhythm. The life-threatening condition can impair the heart’s pumping efficiency, leading to the formation of blood clots within the heart and increasing the risk of stroke.

Penn State Health’s Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Holy Spirit Medical Center, and St. Joseph Medical Center now offer pulsed field ablation technology to patients with intermittent AFib, which can come and go or occur in sudden episodes. These facilities also still offer radiofrequency and cryoablation.

“The introduction of pulsed field ablation in central Pennsylvania is significant for individuals dealing with the most prevalent heart rhythm disorder,” said Dr. Steven Ettinger, vice president and physician leader of Cardiovascular Services at Penn State Health. “With this cutting-edge equipment in the hands of Penn State Health’s skilled cardiovascular specialists, patients can access advanced treatments for atrial fibrillation.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized widespread use of the PFA technology in patients in January after a randomized clinical trial comparing its efficacy and safety with standard ablation techniques. As a result, patients may be able to discontinue medications previously prescribed for AFib.

AFib affects nearly 2 percent of the global population and more than 6 million Americans.

Learn more about Pulsed Field Ablation at Penn State Health here.