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New Treatment for Patients with Atrial Fibrillation

January 29, 2008
KMGH TV-Channel 7 New Treatment For Patients With Atrial Fibrillation Doctors Dub The Procedure "Mini-Maze" Mike Landess, 7NEWS Anchor POSTED: 11:28 am MDT August 24, 2007 UPDATED: 10:24 am MDT August 29, 2007 DENVER, Colo. -- For many atrial fibrillation patients, there is no single cure for their condition. But, one Denver doctor is touting a new minimally invasive procedure aimed at eradicating the condition altogether. One the patients trying the new procedure is 67-year-old Serafin. Serafin has put up with atrial fibrillation for the past five years and has endured lengthy hospital stays and medications to get her quiverring heart under control. "I was in and out of atrial fibrillation at least four or five times a week ... anytime of the day," said Serafin. She said she was plagued by irritability, fatigue, backaches and headaches. The solutions were few and far between. "One morning I woke up and I said to my husband, 'I can't tolerate this any longer. I just can't do this.' And I said, 'I am ready to do have the maze done,'" said Serafin. Atrial fibrillation occurs when electricity reaches the atrium causing the heart to quiver. In other words, speed up. The mini maze procedure, using a small surgical instrument, clamps onto the heart and cooks the heart muscle. The method creates scar tissue and prevents the electricity from reaching the atrium, according to Dr. Kevin Miller of Exempla Saint Joseph Hospital. Miller said it's the newest most effective procedure out there. "The procedure itself is designed to essentially cure atrial fibrillation," said Miller. Before the technique, treatments included a combination of rate control and rhythm control drugs, not to mention anticoagulants like coumadin. "There's a small subset of the population that is very intolerant to those medicines. It just doesn't work for them and their lives are ruled by atrial fibrillations," said Miller. If a person opted for surgery in the past, the procedure required it to be done open-heart. The mini-maze technique requires three minimally invasive incisions on each side of the chest. This means patients are back on their feet a lot faster than before. Serafin said so far, so good. "Well, it's exciting because we're active people and we like to do things and I am really looking forward to it," said Serafin. "I am going to be able to do things I love to do. I didn't have those options five years ago." It wasn't an option for atrial fibrillation patients five years ago, but now it is. Copyright 2007 by TheDenverChannel.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.