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.
Ready to get back to your rhythm?
Schedule an appointment with one of our heart doctors today.
Renee and Ed Chodkowski are avid supporters of St. Joseph Mercy Livingston and Local Care.
Message from Renee:
Ed and I always feel excited to support
St. Joseph Mercy Livingston and Brighton. Community support of local businesses
– in this case, local WORLD CLASS health care – is one of my passions as a
citizen and as “The Great Foodini*.” I have a story, and this is why
I am so committed to St. Joe’s and their remarkable Transformation project
right here in Livingston County.
My story….my dad died at 45 from heart disease. His dad died
at 42 from heart disease. His brother and sister barely made it to 60. Heart
disease. My mom died of lung cancer at 52. My goal is to live 25 out of my 24
hours every day.
When we were working as a family to get care for my dad, we
found ourselves traveling two and three states away for meetings, surgeries,
consultations and treatments. It was a logistical nightmare and financially
impossible to get what was considered the best care. It was never spoken aloud,
but I know that weighed heavily on my dad and I believe he would have been with
us longer had great health care been local.
My mom’s story is similar – her best
treatment was a thousand miles away, next best was 50 miles away, but between
Michigan winters, serious commuter traffic, parking nightmares and waiting, a
half hour treatment was a full day’s work. It exhausted her and she ultimately
declined treatment. I believe she would have been with us longer had great
health care been local.
There are two takeaways from my story. One is how important local care is, and St. Joe’s has demonstrated unwavering commitment to Livingston County. Second, education is key to prevention with so many illnesses. St. Joe’s has so many health education, screening, diagnostic, prevention and health management programs available – right here in Livingston County. You should see their new healthy education kitchen! (See article below). Foodini was excited! This is part of the ongoing Transformation project.
“St. Joe’s and the
patients we serve benefit greatly from passionate support like the Chodkowskis
give. We are so grateful to have them as
partners,” said John O’Malley, president, St. Joseph Mercy Livingston. “As donors and volunteer leaders, Ed and
Renee help ensure our community has high quality, high value, compassionate and
Renee (*aka The Great
Foodini) believes anyone can learn to prepare healthy, delicious meals. She teaches and presents both home cooking
and worksite wellness programs for all ages and groups sizes but her favorite
is her home base demonstration kitchen at Cleary University in Howell. She is regular on Livingston County’s 93.5
WHMI FM; has achieved national acclaim on FOX’s reality series “MasterChef,”
was recognized in the “Pie of Emeril’s Eye” Contest on ABC’s “Good Morning
America;” and was selected by Red Gold Tomatoes as one of the top seven
food writers/bloggers in the U.S. Renee
is a tireless volunteer leader in support of farm-to-table cooking, good
nutrition for all ages, fighting hunger and making nutrition a part of healthy
the kitchen, Renee and Ed have been
married for over 38 years, and have lived in Livingston County for 40 years. They raised their children here, who are both
graduates from Howell High School, and were born at St. Joe’s (when it was
still named McPherson Hospital). As
part of a healthy-lifestyle, Renee and Ed enjoy playing tennis, traveling,
scuba diving, and golfing, and of course eating the healthy meals Renee
Ed and Renee are
champions for St. Joe’s, including serving as co-chairs for the 2019 Livingston
Ball last April. The couple is most
passionate about partnering with St. Joe’s on local care, prevention and
treatment through healthy eating, and making a lasting impact on the community.
First Intensive Heart Health Rehab Program in Livingston County
Your investment in St. Joseph Mercy Livingston is an investment in innovative, evidence-based, local health care. In November 2018, we opened the county’s first intensive heart health rehab program, Pritikin ICR™ (Intensive Cardiac Rehabilitation).
“The Pritikin program has proven to be very successful for patients
at high risk for a cardiovascular event, and we are thrilled to offer this
program to Livingston County to improve the health and wellness of our local
community,” said John O’ Malley, president of St. Joseph Mercy Livingston.
“This is one example of our commitment to transforming care.”
Numerous studies have
documented the Pritikin program’s ability to lower blood cholesterol levels,
improve blood pressure and blood sugar control and reduce other lifestyle-related
Patients benefit from
Pritiken’s three-pronged approach that focuses on: healthy eating, healthy mindset and exercise.
At St. Joe’s Livingston, exercise physiologists facilitate individual and group workshops, yoga therapists lead our mind body workshops and yoga classes, the program includes personalized counseling and coaching, and nutritionists lead classes in meal planning, supermarket shopping and cooking – all in a renovated space including a gym, classrooms and demonstration kitchen. Patients learn skills they can use in every-day life to improve their health. Cardiac rehab can reduce the risk of dying or having another heart attack by as much as 30 to 50 percent, according to the American College of Cardiology.
For more information, please call St. Joe’s Cardiac Rehab at 517-545-6385.
Did you know heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide? Stroke follows second. Even these conditions do not result in death, they cause disability and diminish quality of life. Know the risks and reduce your chance of having a heart attack or stroke.
Risks factors include:
High blood pressure
Stress (leads to poor lifestyle choices)
Alcohol (raises blood pressure and triglycerides)
Diet and nutrition (affects cholesterol, blood pressure and obesity)
Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) is a serious condition that causes arteries in the legs to become narrowed by plaque. When arteries are clogged, blood flow to the legs and feet is reduced, causing pain and making it difficult to walk.
Symptoms of PAD include muscle pain or cramping in legs after activity, wounds on the legs or feet that are slow to heal, changes in your skin color or temperature of your feet and legs and odd growth changes in your toe nails.
Your risk for developing PAD is increased if you have history of smoking or other health issues such as diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure or obesity. Your age or family history may also be a factor.
There are new, minimally invasive ways for trained cardiologists to help open arteries, reduce symptoms and ensure quality of life is improved. If you’re concerned you’re at risk, talk to your doctor to learn what you can do to lower your risk for disease.
Atrial fibrillation is an irregular and often rapid heart rate that can increase your risk of stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications. During atrial fibrillation, the heart’s two upper chambers (the atria) beat chaotically and irregularly — out of coordination with the two lower chambers (the ventricles) of the heart.
Atrial fibrillation symptoms often include heart palpitations, shortness of breath and weakness. Episodes of atrial fibrillation can come and go, or you may develop atrial fibrillation that doesn’t go away and may require treatment. Although atrial fibrillation isn’t usually life-threatening, it is a serious medical condition that sometimes requires emergency treatment.
Ypsilanti resident is first to be admitted to innovative stem cell trial at St. Joe’s
Retired pharmacist Sam Othman knew he was only stalling the inevitable with the multiple medications he was taking for his heart failure. Diagnosed with heart failure six years ago, the 65-year-old Ypsilanti resident knew there must be something else out there to help restore his health.
“Things had been going slowly, slowly for the worst,” Sam said.
Always inquisitive about new and alternative therapies, Sam began to investigate stem cell treatment as a possible option. He felt the theory – relying on stem cells to generate healthy heart tissue – made sense.
Out of curiosity, Sam searched the web and made a serendipitous discovery that St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor was accepting patients in the Phase III CardiAMP® clinical trial.
The investigational study takes a personalized and minimally invasive approach using a patient’s own bone marrow cells in the treatment of ischemic heart failure that develops after a heart attack, and is designed to stimulate the body’s natural healing response.
“On a whim, I thought somewhere close, someone is doing clinical trials with stem cells,” Sam said.
In the past, women were told that a racing heart was nothing more than a panic attack, when often it was a symptom of an arrhythmia or a heart rhythm disorder. Radmira Greenstein, MD, a cardiovascular disease and electrophysiology specialist at Michigan Heart, says a thorough health history is the first step to diagnosing the problem.
“If you are having racing heartbeats before you go on stage to give a talk, it’s probably anxiety. When your heart starts racing out of nowhere, it’s less likely to be related to a panic attack,” Dr. Greenstein explains. “In general, women tend to have more palpitations than men as a result of hormonal changes.”
An examination may lead to additional testing, including an ultrasound of the heart and heart monitoring, Dr. Greenstein points out.
“If you are having palpitations every day, we will recommend a 24-hour monitor that you wear at home. We ask you to keep a diary and note when you are having episodes so that we can correlate the heart rhythm at the time that you were feeling symptoms.”
If you are not having symptoms every day, Greenstein recommends a monitor that can be used for up to 30 days or even implanting one that can last more than two years.
If you are experiencing intermittent palpitations, Dr. Greenstein recommends a visit to your primary care physician. When symptoms continue and include lightheadedness, dizziness or chest pain, you should go to the hospital.
“I provide individualized care guided by the patient and inclusive of the patient’s family,” she says.
About Dr. Greenstein
Radmira S. Greenstein, MD has been practicing in the Ypsilanti and Jackson, Mich. area for more than a decade. She is a member of the American College of Cardiology as well as a member of the admissions committee at the University of Michigan Medical School. In addition to her cardiology practice, Dr. Greenstein volunteers as a Russian language translator.
Stress in all of its many forms can be harmful to your heart. Whether its relationship problems or the pressures at work, the body tends to shift into a primitive protective gear called “fight or flight.”
Mark Bernstein, MD, a cardiovascular disease specialist at Michigan Heart, offers tips for identifying stress and how to find healthy avenues to avoid its negative physical effects.
In scientific terms, stressful events or feelings trigger a part of the brain called the locus coeruleus, which processes sensory input and can increase or decrease awareness of surroundings through its autonomic nervous system.
The hypothalamic/pituitary/adrenal axis will cause hormones to be excreted that will aid in the “fight or flight” response. CRF is secreted by the hypothalamus, which in turn secrets ACTH, which will in turn secrete cortisol, which increases the availability of sugar to the body.
The adrenal gland will also secrete epinephrine, which will increase heart rate and increase blood supply to the muscles and shuts down digestion and sexual system until stress is relieved.
For a short time these responses are appropriate and beneficial, however, if present for a prolonged time the can lead to increased blood sugar, elevated blood pressure, fluid retention, activated platelets (which can lead to heart attacks) and decreased immune response, which can lead chronically stressed people to be more prone to illness.
Why is stress bad for the body? When dealing with relationship issues and the pressures of work, the body shifts into a primitive protective gear called “fight or flight.” The brain stimulates sugar production in the body, increases the heart rate and shuts down the digestive system and sexual system until stress is relieved. These defensive measures offer short-term relief but prolonged stress drives up the risk of heart attack and lead to chronic illnesses.
How do people react to stress?
People react to stress in different ways. Some people experience physical reactions such as heart palpitations, headaches, ulcers, lack of appetite, overeating, anxiety and depression. These conditions are exacerbated by the use of alcohol, tobacco, drugs and lack of sleep.
What are some ways to reduce the physical effects of stress?
For starters, reducing or eliminating bad behaviors can lower risk of developing heart disease. Anxiety medications are an option but they are not a good long-term solution. There are a variety of ways to help people reach a sense of relaxation and well-being. These techniques include meditation, yoga, Tai Chi, music, reading, religion, exercise, healthy eating, and social interaction.