The Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia Institute at Austin's St. David’s Medical Center was the first hospital in the U.S. to pioneer a life-saving treatment system for those affected by heart arrhythmia after it received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Heart arrhythmia is a condition most common among middle aged patients that causes irregular heart beats, increasing the risk for stroke and cardiac failure.

Doctors Andrea Natale and Amin Al-Ahmad from the TCAI were among 67 global operators chosen to begin testing the technology in 2021.

In January, the device received final approval by the FDA and can now be used at hospitals across the country.

The details

The treatment involves a pulsed field ablation system, which delivers short electrical pulses to cardiac tissue to destroy cells that cause the irregular rhythms.

Previous FDA-approved treatment systems used excessive heat or cold to destroy the cells, which could damage surrounding tissue.

“This historic milestone represents the biggest advancement in the electrophysiology field in decades, as it will allow patients to be treated more safely and effectively, ultimately restoring their quality of life,” Natale said in a release.

The ultimate goal of the treatment is to eliminate the condition, which may take several rounds for some patients.

The bigger picture

Natale said the TCAI was chosen to conduct the study for its world-class resources and high volume of heart arrhythmia patients.

The institute includes six labs equipped with specialized technology for electrophysiology procedures.

Currently, St. David's Medical Center is the only one of six St. David's HealthCare locations to offer the treatment.

Looking ahead

Eventually, Natale said he hopes the PFA system will evolve to be able to treat a wider range of heart arrhythmia conditions.