Atrial Fibrillation, or AFib, is the most common type of heart arrythmia or irregular heartbeat affecting 2.7 to 6.1 million people in the United States.
About AFib, Its Signs, and Symptoms
AFib is an electrical problem of the heart that can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications.
When someone has AFib, the electrical signals in the top chambers of the heart (or atria) have become irregular which can lead to a faster heart rate in the bottom chambers of the heart (or ventricles). When the heart isn’t fully and effectively pumping blood through the body, normal activity can become tiring, make breathing challenging, or cause dizziness.
Common risk factors for AFib include high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, sleep apnea, and heavy alcohol use. People can develop AFib even if they don’t have any of these risk factors and lead a healthy lifestyle. This is why early treatment is the key to managing AFib.
Treating AFib: The Convergent Procedure
Many treatment options exist for AFib including medications, medical procedures, or a combination of the two. For patients with persistent AFib that doesn’t respond to medical therapy or prior ablation attempts, a hybrid combined ablation, more commonly known as the Convergent Procedure, might be an option.
What is the Convergent Procedure?
It’s a staged procedure that combines minimally invasive surgery and catheter-based ablation. For this procedure, a cardiac surgeon and a cardiologist work side-by-side to create scar tissue within the heart. This scarring blocks abnormal electrical signals to restore a normal heart rhythm. The surgeon may also seal a part of the heart called the left atrial appendage which can lower your stroke risk.
What are the benefits of the Convergent procedure?
Many patients are able to reduce or eliminate the use of some medications, including anticoagulants after having the Convergent procedure. They are also significantly more likely to be in a normal heart rhythm long-term compared with catheter ablation alone.
This procedure is ideal for patients with paroxysmal or persistent atrial fibrillation who have failed prior ablation or medical management and it only requires a two-night stay in the hospital. If you’ve been diagnosed with AFib talk to your doctor to see if Convergent is a treatment option for you.
*If you think you may be experiencing a heart attack or medical emergency – call 911.
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