Normally, electricity is conducted in a smooth, coordinated fashion from the upper to the lower chambers of the heart. As a result, the heart chambers pump in a coordinated fashion. In atrial fibrillation, the electrical activity of the heart is uncoordinated, with electricity traveling about the upper chambers in a chaotic fashion and causing the upper chambers to quiver (a "bag of worms") and contract inefficiently or not at all.
Atrial fibrillation is common among patients with heart valve disease who require surgery to repair or replace the mitral valve.
Treatment for Atrial Fibrillation
Currently, treatment of atrial fibrillation is aimed at preventing strokes and improving symptoms. The fast heart rates can be controlled with either medication or placement of a pacemaker after modification of the conduction system in the heart. In some patients, atrial fibrillation can be cured by electrically modifying specific areas of the heart either with a catheter or surgical procedure.
Failure of these therapies, debilitating symptoms, or a reluctance to take blood-thinning drugs on a long-term basis should lead to consideration of surgery as a definitive means of curing atrial fibrillation. The CryoMaze procedure is a highly effective surgical treatment for atrial fibrillation.
To be evaluated for the CryoMaze procedure, or to refer a patient, please call 410-328-5842.