Cardiothoracic surgeon Shahab Akhter discusses surgical options for atrial fibrillation.
- Shortness of breath or dizziness
- Chest discomfort
Some patients do not experience any symptoms during this rhythm. Atrial fibrillation may last from seconds to days.
- Maze Procedure:
- Control the heart rate but leave the heart in AF. This is an easier goal to accomplish, using medications to slow down the AV node and the pulse rate. Types of drugs used for this include calcium channel blockers (verapamil, diltiazem), betablockers (atenolol, metoprolol, etc.), digitalis, and even amiodarone. Occasionally, medication is inadequate and a procedure is needed to ablate or eliminate conduction through the AV node. This ablation makes the pulse very slow requiring the implant of a permanent pacemaker.
- Restore and maintain sinus rhythm. This is usually less successful, but many people feel better in regular rhythm. The most common drug therapy for maintaining sinus rhythm are antiarrhythmic drugs such as flecainide, propafenone, sotalol, amiodarone and dofetilide. Unfortunately, these drugs do not work all the time and have side effects.