Medtronic Inc. (NYSE:MDT) said Friday that the Food & Drug Administration approved a catheter-based therapy that uses freezing temperatures to combat atrial fibrillation.
The Fridley, Minn.-based medical device giant touts the Arctic Front system as the first FDA-approved technology to kill the diseased heart tissue that causes arrhythmia by zapping it with freezing temperatures.
Medtronic inherited Arctic Front in 2008 when it paid $380 million to purchase CryoCath Technologies Inc. The Canadian company makes catheters and balloons that restore normal electrical signals in the heart by freezing the tissue or pathways behind the irregular quivering.
Medtronic, which released data on the system at the Heart Rhythm Society’s annual conference, won approval from Canadian regulators in August to sell a system originally developed by U.S.-based Ablation Frontiers Inc. to treat AF with radio frequencies.
About 2.2 million Americans suffer from AF, in which the two small upper chambers of the heart quiver instead of beat normally, according to the American Heart Association. When the patient’s heart is not pumping effectively, blood pools clot and get lodged in the brain, causing strokes.