It can cause shortness of breath, heart palpitations, and fatigue. Doctors say millions of Americans are living with a heart condition called atrial fibrillation—but many are unaware they have it. “It’s one of the most undertreated heart diseases that we see in our office. It is a major risk of stroke. It is a major cause of heart failure,” said Dr. Paul DiGiorgi, a cardiothoracic surgeon with Lee Health.
Your heart has four chambers—two in the front and two in the back. A-Fib happens when the back chambers of the heart stop beating. “The treatments of A-Fib starts with finding out that you have A-Fib, and trying to control the heart rate, in addition to the heart rhythm as much as possible. For many patients that can start with lifestyle changes,” he said.
Things like weight loss, smoking cessation, controlling high blood pressure and diabetes, limiting caffeine and treating any sleep disorders can lower your risk for developing and worsening A-Fib. “We’re not just looking for a cure. I think it’s a stretch to say you can cure this disease, what we’re trying to do is control this disease,” Dr. DiGiorgi said.
Another option for treatment for patients who qualify is the MAZE procedure. “The MAZE procedure is sort of the gold standard for ablation for A-Fib. It was developed in the 80s. It’s called a MAZE because essentially, it creates a maze for electrical pathways to go through in your heart by blocking the major areas, every major area, where A-Fib can come from,” he explained.
The procedure has proven successful for patients who have advanced stages of A-Fib. “In the MAZE procedure, we are doing an ablation to all the other areas in the heart where A-Fib can come from. Ablation is essentially scaring tissue, usually along the linear line in a way that blocks the electrical impulses that are trying to get through with A-Fib,” Dr. DiGiorgi said.
Treatment options that can improve a patient’s quality of life.
time and money— but it can also help children develop a healthy lifestyle.