Atrial fibrillation is an important cause of stroke. Atrial fibrillation causes the upper chambers of the heart to quiver in an uncoordinated fashion with no effective pumping of blood. As a result, blood becomes stagnant and clots can form within the heart, which in turn can be carried downstream to the brain and cause a stroke.
Atrial fibrillation is associated with a risk of stroke of 5 percent per year, and is responsible for 70 to 100 thousand strokes per year in the US. Blood thinner (warfarin) reduces the risk of stroke by 60-70 percent, to 1 to 2 percent per year, but does not completely eliminate the risk of stroke, and is associated with a risk of bleeding.
Only 40 percent of patients with atrial fibrillation in the US are treated with warfarin, mostly because of concerns of bleeding. It is estimated that more than 35 percent of patients with atrial fibrillation will have a stroke during their lifetime.
The CryoMaze Procedure Prevents Strokes
In the largest reported series of patients having the CryoMaze procedure (more than 300 patients), remarkably few strokes occurred (1 patient) during four years of follow-up. This is a particularly remarkable finding in light of the high-risk nature of these patients: 58 had a history of a previous stroke or mini-stroke.
To be evaluated for the CryoMaze procedure, or to refer a patient, please call 410-328-5842.