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New life-changing heart procedure now being performed in Worcestershire

Patients in Worcestershire who have problems with their heart’s rhythm can now undergo a life-changing procedure closer to home.

The new procedure, called cardiac cryoablation, began this week at Worcestershire Royal Hospital for patients with atrial fibrillation. This treatment is the most complex heart procedure carried out in the county, with patients previously having to travel to Coventry to receive the specialist care.

Now, thanks to a partnership between Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust and University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust, patients can receive a local service, undergoing the procedure closer to home.

Cardiac cryoablation involves placing tiny wires inside the heart via the top of the leg to measure the heart's electrical activity. Freezing techniques are then used on the area of the heart causing the abnormal heart rhythm, to alter the affected cells and attempt to restore a regular heartbeat for the patient.

This exciting development means Worcestershire’s Hospitals join just a small number of Hospital Trusts across the country that can carry out this complex work.

Cardiologists at Worcestershire Royal Hospital first starting carrying out cardiac ablation procedures last March, initially just performing the simplest heart rhythm procedures. But this new development has allowed specialists to carry out the advanced cryoablation procedure for the first time, which is expected to help more than 50 people with serious heart rhythm problems in the first year.

Dr Will Foster, consultant cardiologist at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust said: “This is fantastic news for patients who will benefit from shorter waiting times, reduced travel and from receiving a local service, closer to home.

“Traditionally these kinds of cases are only done in large cardiothoracic surgical centres, thanks to close working with UHCW we have been able to extend the type and number of cases we do in Worcestershire to include these more complex cases.”

Nicola Brewster, heart arrhythmia specialist nurse said: “Being able to offer this procedure in the county for the first time is wonderful news for arrhythmia patients. Our patients who require this treatment have previously had to travel to Coventry for the procedure but now can get treated and get back home more quickly and easily.”

The first patient to undergo the procedure in Worcestershire, Josephine Griffiths said: “I was originally due to go to Coventry for this procedure so when I found out it would be at Worcester I was so pleased. It’s great to be able to get the treatment locally and it’s helped a lot being able to have my husband easily give me lifts. I’m sure it will be a huge relief for anyone who is able to have the operation more locally to them.”