Southside Hospital Performs Cryoablation on Former Iraqi War and NYPD Vet

Only LI hospital with advanced cardiac procedures: Lariat, Cryoablation and TAVR under one roof

When Southside Hospital’s Erik J. Altman, MD, director of electrophysiology, performed a Cryoablation heart procedure earlier this month, the Bay Shore hospital became the first on Long Island to offer advanced cardiac services such as, Lariat, Cryoablation and Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement under the same roof.

Cryoablation is a relatively new, minimally-invasive procedure that uses a cold application to apply a “freezer burn” to a heart arrhythmia instead of a heat application, which is traditionally used in radio-frequency catheter ablation, Dr Altman explained.

“There are several advantages to Cryoablation over traditional ablation,” Dr. Altman said. “There’s less discomfort post procedure and more stability for the ablation catheter. When cold temperatures are applied, cryocatheters stick to the tissue they touch improving contact. With the use of freezing technology there is minimal tissue disruption of the inner lining of the heart which occurs when heating energy is used. Other advantages include a reduction in the amount of radiation exposure to the patient during the procedure and reduction of procedural complexity”

Dr. Altman performed one of the first Cryoablation procedures on Joseph Lafond, a US Marine who served two tours in Iraq and was also a New York Police Department (NYPD) officer.   On his way to work as a police officer many years ago, Mr. Lafond’s heart began racing. He was experiencing atrial fibrillation and suffering extreme dizziness. That was the first time he noticed the arrhythmia and had to go to the hospital.  He retired from the NYPD ten years ago because of that condition and has been to the hospital multiple times since.  His heart rate has gone as high as 280 beats per minute and he has been cardioverted (shocked) multiple times to get his heart back into a normal rhythm.
Mr. Lafond said that when he suffered another arrhythmia around Thanksgiving and was evaluated by his cardiologist Dr. Alan Scheinbach of Massapequa Heart Group he felt that he had enough and signed on for the procedure at Southside Hospital.

“The successful Cryoablation was completed in less than two hours,” Dr. Altman said. “Mr. Lafond felt great and went home the next day. It was a reduction of symptoms and potentially a cure for a condition that bothered him for many years.”

It was also the culmination of a successful year for Southside Hospital’s cardiovascular program. This fall, Southside became the first Long Island hospital to perform both Cryoablation and the Lariat procedure, which uses a stitch delivered by a lasso to stop the flow of blood to an area of the heart called the appendage that can be a major source of blood clots in patients and potentially lead to a stroke.

In addition, Southside provides a less-invasive procedure for patients with severe aortic stenosis called Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR).  Dr. Altman explained that patients with this condition have multiple medical conditions that can put them at very high risk if traditional surgical procedures are performed. For patients who were previously considered to be very high risk, TAVR gives hope for extending the lives of these patients with an improved quality of life.

“All of these procedures speak to Southside’s innovative approach to cardiac care and the desire to provide the latest technological and treatment advances to our patients,” Dr. Altman said.  “Southside has earned a reputation for quality, compassion and innovation.  It is because of this reputation that it has become a singular destination for cardiac care.” 
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