Newswise — Washington, D.C., May 15, 2024 – MedStar Washington Hospital Center is the first in the greater Washington and Baltimore regions to use an innovative cardiac ablation therapy to treat atrial fibrillation (AFib), the most common heart rhythm disorder in adults.

Doctors first used the FARAPULSE™ Pulsed Field Ablation (PFA) System on five patients on April 22, and all five patients returned home the same day. To date, an additional 55 patients were treated safely and effectively with this technology.

Traditional ablation therapies have relied on heat or cold energy to block the abnormal electrical signals responsible for AFib. The new, cutting-edge PFA technology delivers highly focused electrical pulses to selectively block irregular heart rhythms while minimizing injury to surrounding areas.

“We are pleased to offer the FARAPULSE Pulsed Field Ablation to help patients with AFib get back to normal heart rhythm,” said Athanasios Thomaides, MD, a cardiac electrophysiologist at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. “The incidence and prevalence of atrial fibrillation keeps rising, and safe, effective and efficient therapy like PFA allows physicians to treat more patients, reduce complications, and improve outcomes.”

During the PFA procedure, a thin tube called a catheter is threaded from the large vein in the thigh into the heart. A small apparatus at the tip of the catheter then delivers a high voltage pulse to inactivate heart cells that transmit the abnormal electrical signals causing AFib. The process is highly selective and efficient, completely sparing nearby normal tissues. Most patients currently receiving pulsed field ablation are those in whom AFib is paroxysmal, meaning it comes and goes.

MedStar Washington Hospital Center has been working with pulse field ablation for several years and participated in studies that have helped the technology become a reality for patients, including the pivotal ADVENT clinical trial, which was a randomized clinical study that directly compared the efficacy and safety of the FARAPULSE PFA against standard-of-care ablation. It found that PFA therapy was as safe and effective as conventional thermal ablation, with statistically shorter ablation times and faster recovery for patients.

By 2030, approximately 12.1 million Americans will have atrial fibrillation. AFib occurs when the top two chambers of the heart, the atria, quiver rapidly and irregularly. Compared to people with normal heart rhythm, those with AFib have a higher risk of stroke, heart failure, and other heart-related complications.