What is Atrial Fibrillation?

Atrial Fibrillation is a very common type of arrhythmia (heartbeat irregularity). During this arrhythmia, the heart can beat too fast (tachycardia), too slow (bradycardia) or alternate between the two rates.

Electrical signals from specialized nerves in the heart that generate the heart rate can cause the two upper chambers (atria) to fibrillate. This results in sometimes the heart rate being very erratic and the four chambers not working in synchrony as they should. This also results in the heart working 15-20 percent less efficient as a pump.

Dr. Stan Lochridge at Cardio-Thoracic Surgeons says that the Maze Procedure is a good option to help correct Atrial Fibrillation and improve cardiac efficiency and prevent strokes.

The Maze Procedure is when you take a clamp or probe using high frequency ultrasound to generate heat or a cryo probe to generate cold to treat the areas that we believe creates the atrial fibrillation and essentially burn or freeze the tissues to stop the fibrillating. This can be done with another heart operation such as a coronary artery bypass or valve surgery. It may also be done as a stand alone procedure via minimally invasive techniques with an endoscope. This makes recovery time and hospital stay shorter.

According to the National Institutes of Health, many who have atrial fibrillation may not feel the arrhythmia or have symptoms. However, this rhythm disturbance may cause strokes from clots inside the heart, chest pain, or passing out if the rate is too fast or too slow.

The Maze Procedure is used in conjunction with medications for long term benefit.

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