Atrial Fibrillation: What is it and what is its treatment?

Dr. Jesús Paylos, national reference in Cardiac Electrophysiology and pioneer in Spain in treating patients suffering from atrial fibrillation with the cryoablation technique with catheter-balloon, has been awarded the “A tu salud” prize in the category of ‘Doctor Expert in Atrial Fibrillation’. This award is given by the newspaper La Razón and recognizes the innovation and efforts of personalities and institutions from the world of health, medicine, the environment, energy, science and technology. The awards ceremony was presided over by the acting Minister of Health, Consumer Affairs and Social Welfare, Mª Luisa Carcedo.

What is atrial fibrillation?

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common arrhythmia in people over 50 years of age, being the most frequent in daily clinical practice, and is therefore associated with significant morbidity and mortality, responsible for approximately 20-25% of cardiology consultations.

Patients with AF have a 5-fold increased risk of suffering a stroke. This also represents an enormous socioeconomic and health impact for the general health care system. Similar to other pathologies in which early detection plays an important role, the earlier atrial fibrillation is diagnosed and treated, the better the prognosis. So, if we are able to electrically disconnect the pulmonary veins from the left atrium, the patient can be successfully cured.

What does the technique consist of?

The technique consists of introducing a balloon with a double chamber that we attach at the anatomical critical point, where the pulmonary vein flows into the left atrium, we circulate the nitrous oxide in the balloon, which when changing from a liquid to a gaseous state, produces an enormous temperature absorption. As a result, we freeze the veins at this critical point with cold at -50C. It should be noted that the lesion produced with cold is a “healthier” lesion, with less risk than the same lesion produced by radiofrequency.

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The medical team of the Arrhythmia Unit at HLA Universitario Moncloa, ASISA Group, has been treating patients since 2008 using the cryoablation technique. This technique achieves complete electrical circumferential isolation of a pulmonary vein with a single shot, which has many advantages. We also have the merit of having been the first in Spain to have carried out the first national cases and to have the largest series at this time published and presented in our country.