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Kingwood Medical Center’s new outpatient heart procedure saves patients from literal heartache

September 8, 2018

Just a week after his heart procedure, Jude Sivcoski was back to his daily work-out routine — 30 minutes on the elliptical stair stepper.

“The hospital instructed me to rest and after a few days my wife had to remind me because I wanted to get up and start going,” Sivcoski said. “The next week, I started easing into exercise and today (Friday, Sept. 7,) was my second morning on my exercise program. I’m feeling great. My heart feels great; my chest feels great.”

Sivcoski underwent a procedure called cryoablation, which is a minimally invasive procedure to treat atrial fibrillation. Atrial fibrillation, or AFib, is a disorder that affects the heart’s ability to pump blood and can increase a person’s risk of stroke.

Kingwood Medical Center recently started offering the cryoablation procedure thanks to chief cardiologist, Dr. Percy Francisco Morales, who is responsible for bringing cryoablation — also referred to as cryoballoon — technology to Kingwood Medical Center.

“It’s been a very good opportunity for a lot of patients to basically get the same procedure done that I was doing before, but in a safer way with a shorter recovery time,” Morales said. “People are having less pain and shortness of breath after the procedure and they’re getting back to work and recovered sooner than with the older equipment we had.”

Prior to having cryoballoon technology at Kingwood Medical, Morales used a procedure called radiofrequency ablation that used heat to remove damaged tissue. The cryoablation procedure uses more of a freezing method to accomplish this, yielding much better results.

Sivcoski, who is one of the 24 patients to receive the cryoablation procedure at Kingwood Medical Center since March.

“I went in at 6 a.m. Thursday morning for prep,” Sivcoski said. “I was in the procedure around 8 a.m. and headed home by 3:30 that afternoon.”

He said coming out of anesthesia, he could feel sensations in his chest, but not pain. According to Morales, pain was one of the main reasons that the old method was not an out-patient procedure.

“The older method, which was the burning method, people afterwards would feel a lot more chest pain after the procedure, more shortness of breath,” Morales said. “I always kept people overnight in the hospital, mostly due to pain control. Some patients would stay multiple days in the hospital due to shortness of breath and chest pain from the procedure itself, which even after they left the hospital would sometimes take a few weeks to really recover from; whereas with the cryoballoon technology, they’re not really having any pain or shortness of breath afterwards and many patients who are doing well after the procedure, I send them home the same day.”

Morales hopes getting the word out about the cryoablation option may save future patients from undue pain and lost time. According to Kingwood Medical Center representatives, the cryoballoon procedure is covered by insurance like traditional treatment options.

Morales is also dedicated to building awareness about atrial fibrillation through his website, www.drafib.com.

For more information about Kingwood Medical Center, visit www.kingwoodmedical.com.

mfeuk@hcnonline.com

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