Betty Yandell, RN, shares her heart story

March 11, 2024 Providence News Team

Providence Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital recently became the first hospital in Northern California to use the POLARx™ Cryoablation System to treat paroxysmal atrial fibrillation (PAF).

This condition causes an irregular and often abnormally fast heart rate that starts and stops spontaneously, causing chest pain, lightheadedness, fatigue, and heart palpitations that last anywhere from minutes to days. AFib is one of the most common heart rhythm disorders, affecting millions of people in the U.S. alone. Approximately 40% of individuals with the condition experience the PAF variation.

“I’ve performed cryoablation at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital since it was first introduced 13 years ago,” said Peter Chang-Sing, M.D., who is the only electrophysiologist to perform the procedure. “We have a track-record of performing these procedures successfully and this new state-of-the-art technology further improves the safety and efficiency of the procedure. This technology is not available at any other hospital nearby.”

Betty Yandell, RN, who has worked for the surgery team at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital for more than 22 years, became the first patient to have the procedure in November 2023. Yandell had her first A-Fib episode in November 2015.

“I was getting ready to go to my grandson’s football game when my heart started beating rapidly. My husband had to drive me to the hospital, but the doctors later told me we should have called an ambulance. Needless to say, I didn’t make it to the game!” she said.

While her A-Fib episodes were few and far between, last year, Betty decided enough was enough.

“It’s unsettling when your heart beats so rapidly. Given my age I didn’t want to have any other episodes,” she said. “Dr. Chang-Sing recommended me as a candidate for the procedure and I trusted him and his team. They are not only fantastic people; they are very knowledgeable and skilled in what they do. I was discharged the same day and went back to work the next day. There were no large incisions, just three little puncture wounds [from the catheter] with band-aids on them and it seems to have worked—I haven’t had any symptoms since the procedure.”

During the minimally invasive procedure, electrophysiologists/cardiologists freeze the targeted tissue, creating small scars that block the electrical signals that cause arrhythmia. The procedure is completed within approximately two hours.

Santa Rosa Memorial performs over 200 A-Fib ablations annually and 75% of these are treated with cryoablation. According to Boston Scientific, who manufactures the technology, studies showed 80% of patients experienced freedom of atrial arrhythmia within 12 months following the procedure. 

Santa Rosa Memorial is the only level II trauma center in the region and cares for more than 35,000 emergency department patients and 3,400 trauma patients each year. Whether an

individual needs immediate medical attention due to Afib or is critically injured, Santa Rosa Memorial’s investment in cutting-edge technology—like the POLARx, which was just approved in August 2023—ensures our community members have access to world-class, life-saving care, when every minute matters.

Click here to learn more about Memorial’s award-winning Heart and Vascular Institute.

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