Heart Beat: November 2015

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An analysis of patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) found some encouraging news for those considering surgical ablation. Research published in the Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery found that about 80 percent of AF patients treated with surgical ablation were free from the abnormal heart rhythm (or arrhythmia), though some individuals continued to need antiarrhythmic drugs to help prevent symptoms. But nearly two-thirds of AF patients no longer need antiarrhythmic medications to be symptom free. The ablation procedure evaluated in the analysis was the Cox-Maze IV procedure. In the original Cox-Maze procedure, doctors made small incisions in the heart to create a maze of scar tissue that blocked the erratic electrical impulses in the hearts upper chambers (atria) and restored a normal heartbeat.
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