Lifewatch: Cryoablation

WILMINGTON -- More than two million people live with heart arrhythmias, or an irregular heartbeat.

A new procedure could get hearts back on beat.  The procedure is complicated and based on cold air.

Patient Peter Nyquist felt an irregular heartbeat in his chest for the past decade.

"Instead of feeling a constant boom, boom, boom in your chest, it would be boom ... boom, boom, ba, ba, ba. Everything was out of beat," said Nyquist.

Even with a lot of coffee, his cardiac arrhythmia left him extremely tired.

"Walking up a flight of stairs you'd really be huffing' and puffin' and you couldn't do any.  It was just a really uncomfortable feeling in the chest," said Nyquist.

Arrhythmias can cause stroke or heart attacks.  Before something serious happened to Nyquist, his heart was frozen back into rhythm by a process called Cryoablation.

A long, thin tube is inserted through a leg vein and threaded to the heart.  Catheter Cryoblation uses intense cold (-90 degrees Celsius) to destroy the heart tissue that is causing irregular rhythm.

Before cryoblation, radio frequency ablation heated up the tissue.  It was faster, but freezing arrhythmias gives doctors more control, and there is less pain after surgery.

Now that his heart is fixed, Nyquist can concentrate on fixing other things.

Patients who try the cryoablation can leave the hospital the same day.  Since arrhythmias are usually treated with medications, this new procedure would come into play if medications aren't enough.

Reported by Kristy Ondo