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Dr. Andrew Rynne

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What are the latest treatments for atrial fibrillation ?

What are the latest treatments for atrial fibrillation?
Tue, 15 Dec 2009
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Thank you to Linny for providing a decent answer!! I was astonished by the ignorance of the previous posters who claimed to be medical professionals. Burning the SA node is an absolute last resort these days, as you'd be pacemaker-dependant & on meds for the rest of your life, with no chance of being helped by any new technologies/procedures that may come up. Plus, you may find that you are in permanent AFIB with a pacemaker, which will only pace the ventricles, NOT the atria. As well, though the medical profession seems to like amiodarone, the drug is highly toxic and cannot be used long term. It may be OK for conversion in hospital, but the risks tolong term health if you start taking the pills are far more dangerous than atrial fib. The Maze is not the newst procedure. I would sincerely hate to be in Soaringjeff's hospital if it's so woefully behind the times. Unfortunately, most AFIB meds lose effectiveness over time, and there are many who are looking to a procedure for help. The RF Ablation is becoming more & more common as it's fairly new, but the risks outweigh the potential benefit, which, at about 60% success rate dependant on the doctor who does the procedure, is not quite there yet. There is also no long term data on this procedure to see how effective it is. This technology needs a few years yet before I'd try it. One of the latest technologies is Cryoablation which looks promising, where they use cold to create lesions on the heart instead of heat, which is less risky. This is still in the testing stage though I believe some centres in Europe are now using it. Also, there is a microwave version of the ablation, pioneered by Dr Adam Saltman which has only been performed a couple hundred times in North America, but so far the results have been impressive. There is also a procedure commonly known as the "mini-maze", also quite new. It was pioneered by Dr Wolf and many people have had great results. They do not crack the chest open for this but go in through your ribs on the side, yet perform almost all the same lesions as the full maze procedure (known as the Cox Maze III, pioneered by Dr. Cox). However, it is apparently far more painful than having the sternum cracked! The advantage of these surgical options versus the ablation options, is that they remove something called the Left Atrial Appendage, which is responsible for 90% of the clots in afibbers (ear-like appendage in the atria thatblood forms behind when your heart is not pumping effectively) so the removal of this can help lower your stroke risk of the procedure fails to cure your AF. There is also a brand new procedure called the HIFU Maze (High Intensity Frequency Ultrasound) which is still in the testing stage but looks promising. Bottom line, as AF is starting to reach epidemic proportions (see recent news articles, search the web), there'll be more & more procedures coming up in the next decade or so, so hang in there with your meds & see what happens. Eventually they'll find the procedure that really works! Do a search on any of the info I've given here, and tons of info will come up.
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