• Cryoablation for Afib

  • Cardiac Balloon Cryoablation for Afib at St. Anthony Hospital

    St. Anthony Hospital cardiologist J. Thomas Svinarich, MD, FACC, is one of few select specialists performing balloon cardiac cryoablation for AFib, or atrial fibrillation treatment  in the Denver, Colorado region.

    AFib is an often life-threatening heart condition, that if left untreated can lead to dementia, stroke, heart failure and death. St. Anthony Hospital is the first medical center in Colorado and the region to offer the breakthrough cryoblation procedure and Dr. Svinarich has been integral in establishing St. Anthony Hospital as an arrythmia management leader in the Rocky Mountain Region.  

    AFib or atrial fibrillation , an irregular heart rhythm that affects the upper chambers of the heart, results in blood not being completely pumped out of the upper chambers of the heart, which may cause it to pool and clot. Cardiac balloon cryoablation offers a faster, more efficient and more comprehensive treatment alternative to radiofrequency ablation. The balloon-based Arctic Front® cryoablation technology destroys the cardiac tissue through the use of a coolant rather than heat used in radiofrequency ablation. This freezing technology allows the catheter to adhere to the tissue during ablation, allowing for greater catheter stability.

    St. Anthony Hospital has the most established cardiac cryoablation program in the region and the technology is well proven. To date, more than 15,000 patients in more than 200 centers worldwide have benefited from Arctic Front® cardiac cryoablation for atrial fibrillation.

  • Atrial fibrillation, often referred to as Afib, is a cardiovascular disorder affecting as many as 3 million Americans. It is caused by a disturbance of the heart's naturally rhythmic electrical impulses. When atrial fibrillation occurs, the two small upper chambers of the heart - the atria - quiver instead of beating effectively. A person with atrial fibrillation may have discomfort, palpitations ("fluttering"), or feel lightheaded.

    Because the blood is not pumped completely out of the upper chambers, the individual with this condition faces a greater risk of blood pooling and clotting within the heart. A stroke can result when a piece of the clot travels from the heart and becomes lodged in an artery in the brain. It's estimated that about 15 percent of strokes occur in people who have atrial fibrillation. In some cases, atrial fibrillation can lead to heart failure.

    J. Thomas Svinarich, MD, Cardiologist discusses why you should pay attention to what is a common symptom of Atrial Fibrillation

    "If it feels like your heartbeat is fluttering or quivering, definitely talk with your doctor right away. This is the most common symptom of a health concern called Atrial fibrillation or Afib. It occurs when an abnormal firing of electrical impulses causes the top chambers of the heart - the atria - to quiver - and can increase your risk of stroke significantly. Treatment may include medication or, in some instances, a procedure known as ablation. We at St. Anthony Hospital were the first in the region to offer the advanced CryoBalloon ablation procedure, which uses a special balloon catheter and extreme cold to provide a more permanent solution."

    Symptoms of Afib


    • Pulse that feels rapid, racing, pounding, fluttering, or too slow
    • Pulse that feels regular or irregular
    • Sensation of feeling the heart beat (palpitations)
    • Shortness of breath
    • Confusion
    • Dizziness, light-headedness
    • Fainting
    • Fatigue


    When medication is not sufficient to control Afib, an irregular heart rhythm, a catheter ablation is performed to prevent the unwanted electrical currents from traveling from the pulmonary veins and spreading to the upper chambers of the heart. Eliminating these abnormal circuits stops them from spreading and causing the atrial fibrillation.

    How the Arctic Front® Cardiac CryoAblation Catheter Works to Treat Afib or Atrial Fibrillation

    One method for treating Afib, or atrial fibrillation, is cryoablation using the Arctic Front® Cryoballoon catheter. As its name indicates, the Arctic Front Cryoballoon delivers a refrigerant through an inflatable balloon to freeze tissue and disable unwanted electrical circuits that contribute to PAF.

    Envision the small catheter shown here as being tiny enough to be guided through the femoral vein (located in the groin area) and up into the heart. In the catheter tip is a liquid coolant that when injected expands to a gas, causing the tip to cool to an extremely low temperature.  

    Once occlusion is confirmed, the physician introduces liquid refrigerant into the balloon. The refrigerant evaporates and removes heat from the heart tissue at the opening of the pulmonary vein where the balloon is in contact with it. As a result, the tissue is scarred and may no longer spread the electrical currents that cause atrial fibrillation.

    To date, more than 15,000 patients in more than 200 centers worldwide have benefited from ArcticFront cardiac cryoballoon ablation. 

    *Images courtesy of Medtronic

  • Colorado Heart & Vascular

    J. Thomas Svinarich, MD, FACC

    Dr. Svinarich Cryoablation

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